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Japan’s PM in UK to talk defence, trade

Defence and trade co-operation will be high on the agenda as Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Japan’s leader Fumio Kishida as part of the UK’s post-Brexit policy to deepen ties with nations in the Indo-Pacific.

With talks expected to focus on measures to put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over his country’s invasion of Ukraine, the two leaders will also agree in principle a defence pact allowing British and Japanese forces to work together.

Johnson will announce the Reciprocal Access Agreement as a “landmark defence partnership”, which will see British and Japanese armed forces deploy together to carry out training, joint exercises and disaster relief activities.

The two leaders will observe a Royal Air Force fly past and inspect a guard of honour.

“As two great island democracies … the UK and Japan are focused on driving growth, creating highly skilled jobs and ensuring we remain technology superpowers,” Johnson said in a statement before the visit.

“The visit of Prime Minister Kishida will accelerate our close defence relationship and build on our trade partnership to boost major infrastructure projects across the country – supporting our levelling up agenda.”

Since Britain left the European Union in January 2020, Johnson has moved to expand his nation’s influence among countries in the Indo-Pacific region, describing it as “increasingly the geopolitical centre of the world”.

The visit will also look to strengthen trade ties, building on a deal struck in 2020 that marked Britain’s first post-Brexit free trade agreement.

Former business minister Greg Clark will be named as trade envoy to Japan.

Britain, seeking new export markets as part of a tilt away from its European neighbours, now has its sights set on joining a trans-Pacific trade pact of which Japan is a member and also responsible for overseeing the British application.

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