UK foreign chief: Britain seeks stronger Japan ties, more engagement with China

Britain's foreign chief says the country will strengthen its partnership with Japan and other nations to ensure the security of the Indo-Pacific region, while continuing to engage with China.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly spoke exclusively to NHK on Tuesday.

The interview comes a day after the British government released a review of its foreign and security policies. It says the UK will prioritize the Indo-Pacific region as "a permanent pillar" of its international policy.

Cleverly described China as "an influential player on the world stage," and said, "Our relationship with China, our response to China's actions need to be carefully calibrated."

He said Britain aims to work together with China in areas where it is "in our interests" such as climate change. But he said his government will also try to persuade Beijing to change its behaviors in other areas, including maritime activities in the South China Sea and human rights in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Cleverly referred to the "AUKUS" partnership, which is the trilateral framework between the United States, Britain and Australia.

He said the framework is aimed at "enhancing security and stability across the whole of the Asia Pacific region."

He went on to say, "The UK will remain focused on that for many, many decades to come, build strong relationships with our friends in the region," including Australia and Japan.

Regarding Japan's international role, Cleverly said Britain will support Tokyo's bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

He noted that Japan is playing an active role through the Group of Seven nations in responding to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, such as imposing sanctions.

He said Britain wants to see Japan "have an even more powerful and positive voice on the world stage."