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Kishida, Hague eye bolstered security ties

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and British Foreign Secretary William Hague agreed Wednesday to deepen bilateral security cooperation, especially in the fields of maritime, computers and outer space as well as counterterrorism.

During the second Japan-U.K. strategic dialogue in Tokyo, the ministers also agreed to start working-level discussions on sharing information about the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. The first dialogue was held last October.

Kishida explained to Hague the plan by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe administration to create a Japanese version of the U.S National Security Council and its plan to review security strategies, including reinterpretation of the pacifist Constitution to allow the Self-Defense Forces to aid allies that are attacked.

Hague welcomed such efforts, saying the security review would certainly make it easier for the U.K. to work with Japan toward international peace and security.

“We support Japan in undertaking its security review. . . . We welcome the work here on establishing a National Security Council and creating a national security strategy,” Hague said at a joint news conference after their hour-long meeting. “We welcome a more active role of Japan in issues of international peace and stability.”

Kishida also stressed to his counterpart the importance of maintaining peace and stability in East Asia, referring indirectly to the ongoing tension with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

“I personally believe there is huge space” for Japan and the U.K. to cooperate in maintaining stability in East Asia, Kishida said. “We would like to deepen cooperation with our old friend, the U.K., with which we share values, interests and responsibilities.”

Following the news conference, the two ministers continued their discussion over lunch, focusing on the Syrian crisis and the situation in the Middle East.

Saying Japan and Britain are two of the biggest humanitarian donors to the people of Syria, Hague said at the news conference he wanted to discuss ways the two governments can coordinate their humanitarian efforts in Syria.

Hague arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday night and was scheduled to depart Japan on Wednesday.