Japan, UK to Hold Joint Military Exercises to Strengthen Maritime Defenses

Britain’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its strike group are scheduled to visit Japan ports in September to hold a joint military drill, the defense ministers from Japan and Britain said on Tuesday.

In a press release, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the move is aimed to counteract the increasing assertiveness of the Chinese forces in the Indo-Pacific region.

After a meeting in Tokyo, Kishi and his British counterpart Ben Wallace announced the joint military drill.

The British aircraft carrier is the largest warship of Britain’s Royal Navy. Wallace said its visit, together with its strike group is part of Britain’s “Indo-Pacific tilt” that shares goals with Japan.

“Both our countries seek to protect and uphold the rules-based international order,” Wallace said at a joint press briefing after meeting with Kishi.

Kishi welcomed Britain’s intention to strengthen its military ties with Japan, including the time when it deployed HMS Queen Elizabeth in May to exhibit London’s increased engagement in the area.

“We confirmed our shared position in strongly opposing unilateral attempts using force to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas,” Kishi said in a statement.

“Together we will send a message to the world that further strengthening of defense cooperation between Japan and Britain will contribute to ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and in the international community,” the Japanese defense minister added, stressing that Japan “will continue to conduct joint exercises with the strike group in a strategic manner.”

In response, Wallace said that it is the two countries’ responsibility “to protect those that are unable to protect themselves from adversaries that will threaten them.”

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