Japan, UK commit to free, open Indo-Pacific

Japan's new prime minister, Kishida Fumio, and his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, have agreed on their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The two spoke over the phone for about half an hour on Wednesday. It was their first conversation since Kishida took office last week.

Kishida said he wants to further develop bilateral relations, calling Japan and Britain globally strategic partners. Johnson congratulated Kishida on his inauguration and voiced his readiness to strengthen ties.

The two agreed that bilateral security and defense cooperation deepened significantly in recent years.

They noted cooperation has reached a new level with British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth's port call at a US naval base near Tokyo last month.

They also confirmed they will work on an early conclusion to the Japan-UK Reciprocal Access Agreement, which stipulates how to organize joint drills between Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the British military.

Johnson also conveyed Britain's readiness to discuss lifting import restrictions on Japanese food products that have been imposed after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Kishida said he hopes the restrictions will be lifted as soon as possible, based on a scientific standpoint.

The two also agreed to deepen cooperation in addressing climate change and responding to the coronavirus.

Britain is to host the UN climate conference known as COP26 later this month.