/

Japan, U.K. security wonks talk business

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

Nearly 18 months after Japan and Britain struck a deal to jointly develop weapons and defense equipment, security experts from both nations gathered in Tokyo Monday to discuss ways to expand that to maritime security, cybersecurity and military equipment.

The two-day conference on Japan-U.K. future security cooperation kicked off with Prince Andrew’s and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s opening remarks, with both stressing the importance of bolstering the partnership to make it more relevant to the needs of the 21st century.

“Britain and Japan have become partners to cooperate together to secure safety of the high seas,” Abe said, referring to both the Royal Navy’s and the Self-Defense Forces’ joint operation to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

Earlier in the day, Michael Clarke, director general of Royal United Services Institute, spoke about the importance of developing security cooperation between the U.K., Japan and the United States, given China’s clear determination to become a maritime power in parts of the Pacific Ocean.

Other participants at Monday’s events included former defense minister Satoshi Morimoto, Pauline Neville-Jones, a former minister of state for security and counterterrorism, and Sir John Scarlet, former chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6.

Speaking at the Japan National Press Club to brief media on the two-day conference, hosted jointly by RUSI and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Clarke said that international cooperation in today’s world is very important because no country can defend its maritime interests alone.

In April 2012, following Japan’s December 2011 decision to relax the ban on arms exports, former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed on a program to develop arms and defense equipment.

Their first joint project, agreed on in June, was to develop a suit to protect against chemical weapons. The venture was Japan’s first such agreement with a country other than the U.S.