Britain and Japan signed a “landmark” military agreement on Wednesday while Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with his British counterpart, Rishi Sunak, in London.
The Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) will allow each nation to deploy troops to the other’s territory. Japan recently signed a similar agreement with Australia, which was the first such arrangement between Tokyo and another country that wasn’t the US since the end of World War II.
The RAA was years in the making and is part of what Britain calls its “tilt” toward the Asia Pacific and Japan’s military buildup, both of which are being done in the name of confronting China. The RAA still needs to be ratified by each nation’s parliament, and Sunak said it could be approved in Britain in the “coming weeks.”
“This Reciprocal Access Agreement is hugely significant for both our nations — it cements our commitment to the Indo-Pacific and underlines our joint efforts to bolster economic security, accelerate our defense cooperation and drive innovation that creates highly skilled jobs,” Sunak said in a statement.
Kishida visited London as part of his tour to G7 nations, which will bring him to Washington on Friday to meet with President Biden. The trip comes after Kishida’s government announced a plan to double military spending over the next five years and released a national security strategy that names China “the biggest strategic challenge.”
The US is encouraging Japan’s military buildup, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted their Japanese counterparts for talks on Wednesday as part of an effort to strengthen the alliance.