The deployment of a Royal Navy aircraft to the Indo-Pacific later this year is set to enhance UK-Japan defence cooperation, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has said.
HMS Queen Elizabeth's visit to the region makes up part of her maiden operational deployment.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab discussed the deployment of the £3.3bn ship during a virtual meeting with their Japanese counterparts, Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishito.
"Japan and the UK have forged a close defence and security partnership that is being elevated to new heights this year when the UK Carrier Strike Group visits the Indo-Pacific," Mr Wallace said.
He added that the "most significant Royal Navy deployment in a generation" demonstrates the nation’s commitment to working with partners in the region.
The operational deployment, known as CSG21, will provide opportunities for the RAF, Royal Navy and their Japanese counterparts to operate together and provide opportunities for future collaboration, the MOD said.
Both Mr Wallace and Mr Raab reaffirmed the UK's commitment to working closely with Japan to maintain security in the Indo-Pacific, according to a Government statement.
Mr Raab said: "The UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt, including the visit of HMS Queen Elizabeth to the region, demonstrates our shared priorities and common strategic interests from maritime security to climate change and free trade."
The MOD added that the four ministers agreed the two countries are each other's closest security partners in Asia and Europe respectively, with shared values and strategic interests.
The statement also said the ministers committed to further cooperation on monitoring illicit ship-to-ship transfers by North Korea.
In recent years, the defence partnership between the UK and Japan has grown.
In 2018, the British Army became the only army, except the US, to train with Japanese forces on Japanese soil.
The Royal Navy also recently agreed to a Maritime Security Arrangement with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces.
Cover image: HMS Queen Elizabeth during Exercise Joint Warrior in October 2020 (Picture: Royal Navy).