UK, Japan sign reciprocal defense treaty for troop deployments
Following an agreement signed Wednesday between Prime Ministers Rishi Sunak and Fumio Kishida, Japan and the United Kingdom will be able to deploy military forces in one another’s territory, as Tokyo draws closer to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) concerns over Chinese warfare growth in recent years.
The Sunak-Kishida arrangement is believed to be the most significant deal of its type between the two countries in over a century. It is expected to allow for more complex exercises between the Asian power and the western bloc. Japan already hosts around 50,000 US troops.
The Reciprocal Access Agreement makes the United Kingdom the first European state to have a reciprocal access deal with Japan. Australia has had a similar pact with Japan but it became non-binding when it was renewed in October last year.
Wednesday’s signing came a month after Japan, the UK, and Italy announced that they would team up to develop a sixth-generation fighter jet, merging separate national jet programs, in a significant post-World War II turn of events. After surrendering to the United States, Japan adopted a defensive approach toward military development and limited its forces to peacekeeping tasks.
But Japan joined the renewed Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with the US, India, and Australia explicitly aimed at countering China in the “Indo-Pacific” region in 2017, and in December it announced a military budget increase, citing threats from China and North Korea.
Tokyo also joined western sanctions against Moscow following Russia’s deployment in Ukraine almost over a year ago.