Rishi Sunak to sign Japan defence pact as G7 meet with China’s rise high on the agenda
TOKYO: The UK and Japan will sign a defence pact on Thursday designed to boost Britain’s military presence in the Pacific as Rishi Sunak arrives in the country for a four-day visit.
The Prime Minister, who is accompanied by his wife on a foreign trip for the first time, will strike deals with Japanese businesses in Tokyo and then travel to Hiroshima for the G7 summit.
He said on his journey to Japan that he wanted to push for economic advantages for Britain, drive unity over the Ukraine war and help design a common approach to dealing with China’s rise.
Mr Sunak told reporters: “Intense period of diplomatic activity over the next few days, probably three main things. I think the first is making sure that we’re creating jobs and driving economic growth at home.
“The second thing is continuing our leadership on Ukraine, something that we all collectively should be proud of. As I do at all these forums, just talking to colleagues about maintaining and enhancing our support to Ukraine, not just in the immediacy but thinking about the longer-term security agreements that we want to put in place to provide Ukraine with deterrence into the future.
“And then the third thing, I think reflecting on where we are, which is Japan and the Indo-Pacific, the importance of that region economically but then also from a security perspective – and then specifically with regard to China, and making that sure that we as G7 allies are aligned in our approach to protecting ourselves against the risks and challenge that China poses.”
He will meet the Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, to sign a new “Hiroshima accord” committing to closer co-operation on defence, scientific research and the economy.
The two countries will sign up to a “consult clause” which means they must speak to each other about all major security issues and discuss how they are going to respond – a move seen within the Government as being one step down from a formal defence alliance such as Nato.
Mr Sunak is also seeking co-operation over semiconductors, the technological components crucial to all forms of computing – the production of which is currently concentrated in just a few countries.
The UK Prime Minister will also agree a plan to have British and Japanese scientists collaborate to develop new green tech.
During his time in Japan, the Prime Minister is expected to meet the leaders of France, India and Indonesia for one-on-one meetings, as well as join the summit sessions with the other G7 member states, the US, Canada, Germany and Italy.
His wife, Akshata Murty, will also take part in the summit, holding a discussion on peace with university students along with other leaders’ spouses. She is taking an increasingly active part in political life, having hosted Jill Biden in London during the coronation weekend.