On September 4, the UK’s Carrier Strike Group led by its newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, docked at Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, and various other ports in Japan.
Japan should take this opportunity to further promote security cooperation with the UK, which is also a maritime nation. It would be a way to deter China’s hegemonic behavior in the Indo-Pacific and to maintain peace and prosperity.
HMS Queen Elizabeth carries 18 F-35B stealth fighters from the Royal Air Force and the US Marine Corps. The Carrier Strike Group, which consists of a large fleet of nine surface ships including an American destroyer and a Dutch frigate, a submarine and 3,700 people, dispersed in the ports of Yokosuka, Sasebo (Nagasaki prefecture), Maizuru (Kyoto prefecture) and Kure (Hiroshima prefecture).
Ahead of the group’s departure from the UK in May this year, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “One of the things that we will clearly do will be to show our friends in China that we believe in international law. sea. “
This means the UK will not tolerate China’s contempt for international law.
The reason Japan was chosen as the destination for this deployment and a large fleet was sent even amid the coronavirus pandemic ー is because the UK recognizes the need for Japan’s cooperation to deter China.
The visit “marks a return to the UK’s enduring presence in the [Indo-Pacific] region, ”Commodore Steve Moorhouse, attack group commander, said at a press conference at the Japan National Press Club on September 7.
British Ambassador to Japan Julia Longbottom reaffirmed that the UK and Japan share values such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law, and that “We believe this visit marks the elevation of our defense and security relations at a new level “,
The Japanese government should warmly welcome this UK approach.
On board HMS Queen Elizabeth on September 6, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said he felt “Britain’s strong desire for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region”.
The carrier strike group participated in a joint exercise with Japan, the United States, the Netherlands and Canada prior to its stopover in Japan. Joint exercises will continue to be organized with the aim of containing the Chinese naval and air forces, which are increasingly active in Japanese coastal waters.
As Commodore Moorhouse said, joint exercises are also needed to “improve interoperability” with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces in order to “respond to emerging threats and uphold the international values and rules we hold dear” .
The Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized the deployment of the British carrier strike group for “showing its military prowess”, but the only purpose of the deployment has always been to deter.
Japan should further develop security and economic cooperation with the UK on the basis of shared strategic values and interests.
(Read the Sankei Shimbun report in Japanese at this link.)
Author: editorial board, The Sankei Shimbun