News story: Defence Secretary announces closer defence ties with Japan

During Michael Fallon’s first foreign visit of 2016, he said that he would like to further develop the UK’s defence cooperation with Japan and will pursue the possibility of a joint exercise involving RAF Typhoon aircraft visiting Japan in 2016 following their deployment on a Five Powers Defence Arrangement Exercise. This follows a visit by an RAF A400M to Miho Airbase in Tottori Prefecture in October 2015.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

Japan is our closest security partner in Asia and I want to significantly deepen defence cooperation between our two nations.

We will do that through joint exercises, reciprocal access to our military bases, military personnel exchanges and cooperation on equipment, including a new air-to-air missile.

Further additional cooperation could include mine hunting in the Gulf; cooperating to improve amphibious capability; and improving counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) capability. The UK also welcomed increasing Japanese participation in NATO exchanges and joint exercises.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond during the visit to Japan. Copyright British Embassy/Michael Feather
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond during the visit to Japan. Copyright British Embassy/Michael Feather.

On the visit to Japan with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond the Ministers met with their counterparts Minister of Defence H.E. Mr. Gen Nakatani and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, H.E. Mr. Fumio Kishida. They welcomed progress in defence and security co-operation over the past year and reaffirmed the dynamic strategic partnership between Japan and the UK.

The Ministers confirmed that Japan and the UK would cooperate to tackle global security challenges, including through disaster relief and a greater role in UN peacekeeping. Recognising Japan as its closest security partner in Asia, the UK welcomed Japan’s recent Legislation for Peace and Security, and supported Japan playing a more proactive role in securing global peace, stability and prosperity through its policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation.

Recognising the shared challenge posed by malicious cyber activity, the Ministers also decided to strengthen information-sharing and cooperation in cyber security. It was also confirmed that the two nations intend to conduct a joint research project in 2016 with UK-US-Japan military cyber analysts and are aiming to conduct joint cyber exercises with Japan.

It was also agreed to deepen cooperation on defence equipment and technology. Following the success of the first round of talks on the Co-operative Research Project on the Feasibility of a Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM), the Ministers confirmed discussions would move to the second stage.

from Ministry of Defence – Activity on GOV.UK

[box type=”error” bg=”#” color=”#” border=”#” radius=”0″ fontsize=”18″]TD COMMENT; Joint New Air-toAir Missile (JNAM), interesting, as this was thought to be simply research on a new digital seeker for Meteor. Still, looks like talks about talks at this stage. Difficult to see what tangible results will accrue from greater defence cooperation with Japan, perhaps some collaborative development programmes and maybe even something on whatever comes after Typhoon, but other than that, this is another case of spreading our jam thinly in order to be seen to be ‘engaged on the world stage’. Good for the headlines, actual outcomes, not a great deal. Does anyone know why they chose to announce it on a US Navy aircraft carrier? [/box]


Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
January 8, 2016 2:39 pm

It is to show the UK has interest in the Asia-Pacific albeit minute.

Two grey-haired man standing on a ship the Royal Navy wont have in the near future.

January 8, 2016 3:04 pm

Japan closest security partner?

How about Singapore, Australia, or even Malaysia for example?

Senior Moment
Senior Moment
January 8, 2016 3:08 pm

Well we could have bought a four engined fly by light maritime patrol aircraft instead of a two engined adapted passenger jet that uses fly by wire

January 8, 2016 3:48 pm

Actually I think that is a Japanese aircraft carrier not Ocean.. erm I mean really big destroyer. Interestingly there was an article in the Aussie defence press recently entitled ‘Britain is Back (again)’, referring to recent committments to deploy the QNLZ carriers more often to the Asia-Pacific theatre – we are interested as our trade profile is moving away from dependence upon EU/US markets at they have declined since the financial crisis – all the growth is in Asia (eek – looking at the China crash). Keeping the seaways open is therefore of direct interest to the UK, epecially in light of the build up in the South China sea. Freshening up our aliances with key Asian allies and actually doing something with the Five Powers as well as Japan is therefore strategically important.

Peter Elliott
January 8, 2016 4:18 pm

From a skills perspective operating big deck LPH is an area of common interest with Japan. The more so if they follow the path of embarking F35B on their big “Destroyers” any time in the future…

Peter Elliott
January 8, 2016 4:41 pm

According to wiki the Japanese Flat Tops carry the numbers 181-184…

stephen duckworth
January 8, 2016 5:25 pm

With the recent land grabs , sorry ocean engineering of scientific outposts and SAR stations in the South China Sea and China’s struggle to completely restructure is gigantic economy whilst trying , at least on the face of it, to be more environmentally responsible is worrying the World ,especially China’s ancient enemy Japan. The meeting aboard the RR is a show to turn a common face towards China.
Personally i think we can’t even look after our own backyard let alone spread ourselves to the other side of the planet.

January 8, 2016 7:37 pm

@Steven Duckworth,

1 Have to preserve a going interest in the Antipodes because in an interconnected world the Commonwealth is again a valuable concept and really those particular nations are “family” at a pretty deep level (though a mix of neglect and contempt for the Commonwealth-at-large from its old centre going back at least a generation with all three major parties in power over that time doesn’t help.) Maybe, maybe Singapore if a lot of other folk pitched in as well. The Western Indian Ocean (because of its nearness to India, the fact it forms a geographic border with Africa — a continent in which the UK does need to be interested) and its convenient reach towards the Arabian Peninsula makes sense. The Pacific is a little bit about high-end defence contracting and R

January 8, 2016 8:12 pm

Bugger. Picking up from that comment-shrapnel:

… High-end defence contracts and R&D, but I suspect that like the cozying-up to Chinese sovereign wealth funds, this particular initiative is really about Tokyo-Square Mile relations. Which is a shame because there really are (as per Peter Elliot) areas of overlap at operational level between certain things both nations’ armed forces are required to do. And not only do, but potentially do more often in case a conflict is either so large or so narrowly-nationally-focused that Big Pal (USN/USAF) is engaged elsewhere…

January 8, 2016 9:31 pm

@Senior Moment,

This. Procurement is a spoils system in every major nation-state, so doing right by American defence stocks in MPs’ portfolios (and those of various other officials/consultants/quasi-private industry figures) and assuring a commonality in the name of saving money (which is also a dependence and may have knock-on costs but really, lads, it’s not always about “saving money” especially when you’re not *really* spending 2%) gets you P-8.

But it would’ve made imminent sense to go in on P-1 with Japan for the reasons you gave, plus the fact it’s purpose-built for hardened ASW against serious opposition (China or the subs of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, the latter’s last credible asset in-theatre) and has gone through some serious de-risking of early production issues. Get a squadron at a decent price for MPA, plus a spare airframe to muck around with to gin up an EW/ISTAR version of the aircraft (for which British R

January 8, 2016 9:41 pm

Sigh …

Again: R&D, paid to British firms in Japanese yen. This gets you 1) a British-service replacement for Rivet Joint and Sentinel and 2) Japan can build an Anglo-Japanese product for the same uses with JMSDF. In other words a virtuous circle.

For anyone who expects the same (British development/integration and combined production) for P-8 I’d point to the rather paltry set of extras for F-35 from abroad (yes they are very high-end but they are few and far between and keep a small number of high-paid artisans in work and backing HMG photo ops — ecumenical ones since this started under Labour and has carried on merrily with the Coalition and Tory-only government — while a horizontally larger, strategic industry continues its slow progress towards the wall.) Compare that to the actual hundreds of F-16s license built nose to wingtips by client buyers. And, on a more (statistically, not emotionally) positive correlation, the career of Airbus’ MRTT in the U.S. Congress.

January 9, 2016 12:55 am

Interesting the photo was shot onboard USS Ronald Reagan. I checked the info and our Helicopter Carri…. cough, “large destroyer” Izumo is sitting in Yokosuka. This means, the “UK-Japan” photo was taken onboard “US Ship” on purpose.

In Japan, we there are concerns about UK’s “deep relation” with China, the agreement late last year including big project of Nuclear plant (surely a strategic infrastructure) in UK to be built using Chinese Technology. I think this visit is to “counter balance” that impact.

On the JNAM. In Japan, it is told that we wish to integrate our AAM-4 seaker (ARH) to Meteor air-frame. We have a plan to develop a “ram-jet” based long-range AAM. But, you already have Meteor, we will be glad to get information/key technology Britain has, or even use your airframe. (That is our-side rather-selfish aim, to my understanding).

One question. Meteor can be integrated whtin F-35B?


January 9, 2016 3:50 am
stephen duckworth
January 9, 2016 6:31 am

@Donald of Tokyo
Your own country supplies critical components to the Chinese nuclear industry in the form of very heavy forgings for reactor cores etc by the Hokkaido plant of the Japanese Steelworks Company . This is a good thing as it strengthens economic ties between your countries . Personally I think China has NO expansionst ambitions beyond the Nine dotted line in the South China Sea but they may even give that up if their push towards fracking on the mainland proves successfull. My other half is from the PRC and has very strong views about Japan but as generations pass in peace her attitude will leave future generations in the same way we have little issue with France and Spain nowadays. Perhaps by finding common ground with China such as African development (which they are really really good at) we can lay these ghosts to bed.

January 9, 2016 7:24 am

@stephen duckworth
Thanks. You are right. I know. Economical connection between China and Japan is much much strong than UK-China. So, I believe it is the matter of “right-wings” of each sides. If you ever know Japanese (not on the net, but on real communication), you may see we are very very economical, dislikes war (we are educated as such, it is YOU and US who did that after WW2), and never think we want a war. So it is of diplomacy.

Another aspect is that, we are in the US-side (as you are) in the US-China supremacy competition over Pacific ocean. We only Japan cannot decide which way to go. We just decided to go along with US. That’s all.

I fully understand that UK is gaining economical relation with China, reasonable. AND I fully understand UK is standing in Japan and US side in its politics.

If you think I blamed something, I am sorry for it. I did not meant it. What I said is that “UK-Japan photo in USS” is very symbolic photo, for UK to take diplomatic balance in between.

January 9, 2016 11:49 am


UK trade to Asian countries and with some Asia countries, it surpassed trade (and investment) w the EU

January 9, 2016 1:08 pm

Back in 2012, a Japanese magazine printed artwork of a proposed CTOL carrier for the Japanese Navy. The same size as the UK QE/PoW, but with cats & traps. Perhaps we could sell the French version of QE that was CTOL?
However, it looks like 2016 is going to be rough for the global economy & spending may be cut rather than increased.

January 9, 2016 4:37 pm


The problem with China’s claim to the South China Sea is that it really isn’t due to resources but nationalistic/historical pride, so even if they end up with alternate sources of fuel, it still will not solve the problem as the main purpose for all the sabre rattling is the “China Ascendant” nationalistic pride of the Chinese. In short, they want to win and will not accept any other result other than their victory in the territorial claim. It is a really big problem. If you win, they end up with a huge grudge against you for “stealing their victory” and if they win, it is a loss for international convention regarding economic zones. A “lose-lose” situation. :(

January 10, 2016 2:05 pm

I cannot see that Japan needs an Aircraft Carrier beyond the ASW carriers it has. With its geographical location it has islands well positioned to cover the East China Sea. I’d suggest increasing defence cooperation with the Philippines if it wanted to have better coverage of the South China Sea.

Carriers are more relevant for “Global” players as it means that they can get involved in regional conflicts without having to have a significant forward presence IMO.

January 10, 2016 4:53 pm

Repulse. Do not forget the “me too” factor. If China is building STOBAR Carriers able to take SU-27 type aircraft, then a CTOL carrier for Japan loaded with F-35C, might be seen as a balance. I am rubbish at posting working links, but I will try.