Boris Johnson and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida announced new agreements at Downing Street Thursday, on deepening defence co-operation and the lifting of restrictions on food imports from Fukushima.

The new defence deal will allow for British and Japanese troops to deploy together for training, joint exercises, and humanitarian relief missions.  A UK government official said this Reciprocal Access Agreement highlighted the “UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific.” The deal will also deepen weapons development with Japan, with the pair to collaborate on the UK’s sixth-generation warplane – the Future Combat Air System programme.

It makes the UK the first European nation to have such ties with Tokyo and deepens Britain’s pivot towards the Indo-Pacific. Last year it was announced that the UK and US would collaborate with Australia to develop nuclear-powered submarines in what has become known as the AUKUS military alliance. The remit of AUKUS was recently widened to include the development of nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles, much to the criticism of CND.

Food for thought

Also announced was Food Standards Authority (FSA) plans for the removal of the remaining restrictions on food produce from Fukushima. In the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster, Japan imposed strict restrictions on food coming from Fukushima prefecture. However, since 2019 it has called for a relaxation of the rules. Kishida later told a meeting in London’s financial district that Japan would aim to restart its mothballed nuclear reactors – as a way to cut its reliance on oil and gas.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “The latest announcement of another British defence pact in the Indo-Pacific will only lead to a further escalation of tensions between nuclear-armed states. In addition to close collaboration on wargaming,  Tokyo will participate in the development of new weapons systems such as a next-generation fighter. Considering the AUKUS pact was quickly expanded from nuclear-powered submarines to include the development of nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles,  who is to know where weapons development with Japan will lead? What is known is that the UK is among those leading the charge in a new arms race in the region – at a time when taxpayers’ money would be better used tackling growing austerity and energy insecurity at home.”