HMS Argyll

HMS Argyll will deploy to the Pacific region next December as Prime Minister Theresa May calls for closer defence ties between Britain and Japan in order to combat the threat posed by North Korea.

British and Japanese troops will also take part in joint military exercises as part of a security review positioning Japan as the UK’s closest security partner in Asia.

Theresa May told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that his country could count on the UK as a “dependable” partner in the face of aggressive action from Pyongyang.

Mrs May made the statements at a meeting of the National Security Council in Tokyo. She is the first European leader to do so.

She added that the decision to form closer ties shows a “deepening partnership and commitment to go further”.

She said:

"Through our deepening security partnership, we must work together to enhance our collective response to threats to the international order and global peace and security."

"That must include confronting the threat that North Korea poses and ensuring that this regime stops its aggressive acts."

The meeting followed a missile launch by North Korea over the Japanese Island of Hokkaido, which landed in the Pacific Ocean.

Mrs May added:

 "Against a backdrop of a more uncertain world, I want you all to know that Japan can count on the United Kingdom as a dependable and like-minded partner."

Theresa May

The UK will also provide advice on cyber security and terrorism ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Mr. Abe said:

"Our security co-operation this time is about to be elevated to a new level.

"Just two days ago North Korea went ahead with the reckless act of firing missiles, this time over Japan, and I do hope the United Kingdom and Japan can work together to deal with the threat of North Korea."

Mrs May was earlier taken around the Japanese maritime self-defence force's carrier Izumo where British forces personnel are currently sharing mine clearance expertise.

Pyongyang has massive mine stocks which could paralyse Japanese shipping lanes.

The PM met mine clearers from the Royal Navy during the hour-long tour on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Lieutenant Commander Alasdair Magill, who works on the ship, told Mrs May

“We have found many areas of commonality and we are looking to bring that forward into the future with more opportunities to train together."

Following the security developments, the US has flown supersonic bombers and fighter jets over South Korea in a show of force.

An official from Seoul's Defence Ministry said two B-1B bombers and two F-35 fighters participated in training with South Korean F-15 fighter jets.

Such flyovers are common when animosity rises on the Korean peninsula, which remains in a state of war since the Korean War ended in an armistice, rather than a peace treaty.

The B-1Bs were flown in from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, which North Korea has earmarked as a target, while the F-35s came from a US base in Iwakuni, Japan, the official said.

 

 

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