Japan, UK agree to ramp up bilateral security cooperation

The foreign and defense ministers of Japan and Britain have agreed to further strengthen their security cooperation through joint exercises and a project to jointly develop a next-generation fighter jet.

The "two-plus-two" talks took place on Tuesday afternoon in Tokyo. Japan's Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko and Defense Minister Kihara Minoru met with their British counterparts James Cleverly and Grant Shapps.

At the outset of the meeting, Kamikawa said Japan and Britain are the closest security partners in Europe and Asia. She said Tokyo wants to deepen bilateral ties to maintain a free and open international order based on the rule of law.

Kihara expressed hope that the two countries, as partners sharing strategic interests, will exchange candid views and work together to tackle common challenges.

The four ministers confirmed that Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the British military will conduct complex exercises frequently as the Reciprocal Access Agreement aimed at smoothing cooperation has taken effect.

The ministers also agreed that the two countries will advance technological cooperation as part of a joint project between Japan, Britain and Italy to develop a next-generation fighter jet by 2035.

They shared the view that they strongly oppose China's attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force and coercion.

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian situation, the ministers unequivocally condemned the terror attack by the Islamic group Hamas on Israel. They also agreed on the importance of diplomatic efforts by all parties to prevent the conflict from escalating.