Japan and the United Kingdom are seeking to deepen defense cooperation in 2016 including possible joint military exercises and pushing ahead with the development of a new air-to-air missile, according to U.K. Defense Secretary, Michael Fallon, who visited Japan in the first week of January.
“Japan is our closest security partner in Asia and I want to significantly deepen defense cooperation between our two nations,” Fallon said in a joint press release. “We will do that through joint exercises, reciprocal access to our military bases, military personnel exchanges and cooperation on equipment, including a new air-to-air missile.”
The British defense secretary was in Tokyo on January 8, alongside Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani.
Among other things, both sides are now investigating the possibility of a joint combat jet exercise involving Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft of the Royal Air Force in Japan, following a Five Powers Defense Arrangement Exercise in 2016.
Japanese and British defense officials also discussed possible venues of cooperation in improving both amphibious and counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) capabilities. Both sides also decided to strengthen information-sharing in the field of cyber security. London and Tokyo agreed to conduct a joint cyber security research project and are looking into a number of joint cyber exercises also involving U.S. military cyber analysts.
Japan and the United Kingdom are also pushing the development of a Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) to the next stage, according to the press release:
Following the success of the first round of talks on the Co-operative Research Project on the Feasibility of a Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM), the Ministers confirmed discussions would move to the second stage.
The weapon under consideration is a ramjet-powered, beyond a visual range missile, currently being developed by European defense contractor MBDA, which could be fitted into the F-35’s internal weapons bay.( In 2011, Japan decided to procure 42 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, the first of which are scheduled to arrive at the end of 2016.)
In his statement to the press, Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani emphasized the communality of strategic interests of both countries in Asia:
Last year, the U.K. published the SDSR [Strategic Defense and Security Review]. In this, the U.K. reaffirmed its commitment to its presence as a global power. The SDSR highlighted Japan as the closest security partner in Asia, and I highly regard this statement. In the same year, we have reformed our legislation concerning peace and security. Through these processes, our two nations have confirmed the further commitment of the stability of the world.
The British defense secretary also emphasized his country’s support for Japan’s “Proactive Contribution to Peace” policy and Tokyo’s new Legislation for Peace and Security.