Japan, Britain to expand security ties
The Yomiuri Shimbun
TOKYO — Japan and Britain have started talks on signing an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement to expand their bilateral security cooperation, it has been learned.
The pact, which will allow the two key U.S. allies to cooperate smoothly in peacekeeping operations, antipiracy missions and disaster-relief activities, comes amid China's rapid military buildup and aims to strengthen their security cooperation.
An ACSA was concluded between Japan and the United States in 1996 to enable the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military to provide each other with food, fuel and equipment and use each other's facilities. It specifies conditions and settlement methods for those purposes.
The ACSA between Japan and the United States was initially limited to joint exercises, U.N. peacekeeping operations, humanitarian international relief activities and emergencies around Japan. In 2004, it was expanded to include armed attacks and situations in which an armed attack is imminent.
The move to sign an ACSA between Japan and Britain was prompted by the mega-typhoon that devastated the Philippines in November. The British Royal Navy dispatched the aircraft carrier Illustrious to the country to conduct relief activities, while the SDF sent the Ise helicopter destroyer.
Japan and Britain had discussed the mutual provision of supplies and helicopter operations to smoothly offer food and medical support there, but they were unable to cooperate with each other because they lacked an agreement to do so.
The British military, which often conducts joint operations with other countries, only needs to have the commander in charge of those operations sign a contract to share money and supplies with other countries.
But Japan must conclude an agreement with other countries in advance in such cases. There is broad support within the British government to ink an ACSA with Japan.
Japan expects that strengthening its relationship with Britain will help keep China's military expansion in check.
Britain places importance on its economic relationship with China and does not expect a confrontation with Beijing. However, Britain shares Japan's concerns that China's move to establish an air defense identification zone that covers the airspace over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, an action that has raised tensions in East Asia, threatens the existing maritime order.
In July last year, Japan and Britain signed a bilateral cooperation pact over the joint development of defense equipment, and another on intelligence protection cooperation.