The Japanese and British foreign and defense ministers on Friday issued a joint condemnation of North Korea’s nuclear test and pledged to strengthen military cooperation between Japan and the United Kingdom.
British Secretary of State Philip Hammond and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon met late Friday with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani in Tokyo for a “two-plus-two” forum.
Earlier in the day, the British officials toured the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s largest warship, the helicopter carrier Izumo, at Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Their three-day visit to Japan began Thursday, a day after Pyongyang said it detonated a hydrogen bomb — a move that, if confirmed, would show that North Korea has greater destructive potential than previously recognized.
The ministers expressed “grave concern” over the test.
“Our relationship is underpinned by a growing defense and security partnership, reflecting our shared ambition to contribute not only to global prosperity, but also to global peace and security,” Hammond told reporters after the meeting.
In the statement, the four called the test a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and international measures against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The two countries will “work urgently on further significant measures in a new Security Council resolution,” it added.
At the joint news conference, Hammond also said Britain welcomed the divisive security laws Japan enacted last year, which will greatly expand the types of missions that can be undertaken by the Self-Defense Forces overseas.
“I welcome the legislation passed by the Japanese Diet last summer that will allow Japan to play a greater role in international peace and security.”
As for Britain-Japan military cooperation, the four ministers called for talks on a bilateral pact allowing the United Kingdom’s military and the Self-Defense Forces to render mutual logistic support.
The Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement should be concluded “at the earliest possible opportunity,” the statement said, calling it “an important pillar in the framework of security cooperation between both countries.”
Japan has already concluded ACSAs with the United States and Australia. Supplies of weapons is not covered under the pacts.
The ministers also expressed “concerns” over the situation in the East and South China seas, alluding to China’s moves to strengthen its territorial claims there.
Britain and Japan are opposed to “any coercive or unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, that could change the status quo and raise tension,” the statement read.
In almost every recent diplomatic statement related to Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, Tokyo has tried to insert similar wording in a bid to keep China in check.
China’s claim to most of the South China Sea has caused diplomatic rows with several countries in the region. Moreover, Beijing claims the Japan-controlled Senkakus islets in East China Sea, which are claimed as Diaoyu by China and Tiaoyutai by Taiwan.
The ministers also “supported the exercise of freedom of navigation and overflight,” the statement said.
In October, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12-nautical miles of Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, a maneuver Beijing hotly contested.