2016-01-17 When Norway brought its Aegis system into the Pacific and the UK announced in 2013 that they were going to enhance their defense cooperation with Japan, it should have been clear that Northern Europe/UK and Japan were opening a new page.
And the as the Northern sea route opens this foundation could expand in terms of practical joint capabilities as well to move from region to region.
Recently, the UK government announced that their practical efforts to enhance defense cooperation would deepen.
During Michael Fallon’s first foreign visit of 2016, he said that he would like to further develop the UK’s defence cooperation with Japan and will pursue the possibility of a joint exercise involving RAF Typhoon aircraft visiting Japan in 2016 following their deployment on a Five Powers Defence Arrangement Exercise.
This follows a visit by an RAF A400M to Miho Airbase in Tottori Prefecture in October 2015.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
Japan is our closest security partner in Asia and I want to significantly deepen defence cooperation between our two nations.
We will do that through joint exercises, reciprocal access to our military bases, military personnel exchanges and cooperation on equipment, including a new air-to-air missile.
Further additional cooperation could include mine hunting in the Gulf; cooperating to improve amphibious capability; and improving counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) capability. The UK also welcomed increasing Japanese participation in NATO exchanges and joint exercises.
On the visit to Japan with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond the Ministers met with their counterparts Minister of Defence H.E. Mr. Gen Nakatani and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, H.E. Mr. Fumio Kishida. They welcomed progress in defence and security co-operation over the past year and reaffirmed the dynamic strategic partnership between Japan and the UK.
The Ministers confirmed that Japan and the UK would cooperate to tackle global security challenges, including through disaster relief and a greater role in UN peacekeeping. Recognising Japan as its closest security partner in Asia, the UK welcomed Japan’s recent Legislation for Peace and Security, and supported Japan playing a more proactive role in securing global peace, stability and prosperity through its policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation.
Japanese Minister of Defence H.E. Mr. Gen Nakatani said:
I am happy to reunite with Ministers Hammond and Fallon in Tokyo after gathering one year ago for the previous 2+2.
Last year, the UK published the SDSR. In this, the UK reaffirmed its commitment to its presence as a global power. The SDSR highlighted Japan as the closest security partner in Asia, and I highly regard this statement. In the same year, we have reformed our legislation concerning peace and security. Through these processes, our two nations have confirmed the further commitment of the stability of the world.
We will continue our discussions at the Defence Ministerial Dialogue tomorrow. I personally look forward to further strengthening the bilateral partnership.
Recognising the shared challenge posed by malicious cyber activity, the Ministers also decided to strengthen information-sharing and cooperation in cyber security. It was also confirmed that the two nations intend to conduct a joint research project in 2016 with UK-US-Japan military cyber analysts and are aiming to conduct joint cyber exercises with Japan.
It was also agreed to deepen cooperation on defence equipment and technology. Following the success of the first round of talks on the Co-operative Research Project on the Feasibility of a Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM), the Ministers confirmed discussions would move to the second stage.
It should also be noted that the UK and Japan are both F-35 partners which provides a practical bridge as well.
Japan has built the third final assembly facility for the F-35 and is clearly interested in F-35Bs as well.
If they go ahead an add F-35Bs to the Japanese forces, clearly the UK with its special domain knowledge of this aircraft would provide a significant partnership opportunity as well.
Japan and the United Kingdom are also focused on the prospect the development of a Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) to the next stage, according to the press release:
Following the success of the first round of talks on the Co-operative Research Project on the Feasibility of a Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM), the Ministers confirmed discussions would move to the second stage.
It is not difficult to envisage the foundation for such an effort, which is the Meteor missile system. nd this missile will be carried by an F-35 as well as by other aircraft such as the Typhoon and could be fitted onto Japan’s F-15s.
Editor’s Note: We wrote about the evolving Japanese strategy in our book on Pacific strategy published in late 2014.
A key part of the Japanese approach is shaping a proactive perimeter defense.
Working with the allies will be a key part of shaping that approach, defense acquisition and training.
In an article published in the Japan Times on December 18,2015, the evolving Japanese approach was highlighted.
Lapan is fortifying its far-flung island chain in the East China Sea under an evolving strategy that aims to turn the tables on China’s navy and keep it from ever dominating the Western Pacific Ocean, Japanese military and government sources said…..
Interviews with a dozen military planners and government policymakers reveal that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s broader goal to beef up the military has evolved to include a strategy to dominate the sea and air surrounding the remote islands.
While the installations are not secret, it is the first time such officials have spelled out that the deployment will help keep China at bay in the Western Pacific and amounts to a Japanese version of the “anti-access, area denial” doctrine, known as A2/AD in military jargon, that China is using to try to push the United States and its allies out of the region…..
“Rather than A2/AD, we use the phrase ‘maritime supremacy and air superiority,’ ” said Yosuke Isozaki, Abe’s first security adviser until September and a key author of a national defense strategy published in 2013 that included this phrase for the first time.
“Our thinking was that we wanted to be able to ensure maritime supremacy and air superiority that fit with the U.S. military,” he added.
Toshi Yoshihara, a U.S. Naval War College professor, said Tokyo could play an important role in limiting China’s room for maneuver through the East China Sea to the Western Pacific, enhancing U.S. freedom of movement and buying time for the alliance to respond in the event of war with China.
“You could say Japan is turning the tables on China,” Yoshihara said…..
Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, cast Japan’s buildup in the East China Sea as complementary to a broader U.S. strategy.
“The U.S. planning process for any theater takes into consideration the capabilities and forces of friends and potential adversaries,” Aucoin told Reuters. “The U.S. plans with the ultimate objective of maintaining peace and stability not only for Japan, but also for the region.”
Over the next five years, Japan will increase its Self-Defense Forces on islands in the East China Sea by about a fifth to almost 10,000 personnel.
Those troops, manning missile batteries and radar stations, will be backed up by marine units on the mainland, stealthy submarines, F-35 warplanes, amphibious fighting vehicles, aircraft carriers as big as World War II flat-tops and ultimately the U.S. 7th Fleet headquartered at Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Already cooperating closely, the Japanese and U.S. navies will draw closer than ever after Abe’s new security legislation legitimized collective self-defense, allowing Japan to come to the aid of allies under attack.
One crucial change, said Maher: The U.S. and Japanese military can now plan and practice for war together and deliver a force multiplier…..
Japan’s military planners must also figure out how to transform an army used to sticking close to its bases into a more mobile, expeditionary force.
Decades of under-investment in logistics means Japan has too few naval transport ships and military aircraft to carry large numbers of troops and equipment.
A more delicate task for Japan’s government, however, may be persuading people living along the islands to accept a bigger military footprint. After decades hosting the biggest concentration of U.S. troops in Asia, people on Okinawa are voicing greater opposition to the bases.
For now, communities on the long chain of islands, home to 1.5 million people, that have been asked to host Japanese troops are happy to do so, said Ryota Takeda, a lawmaker who as vice defense minister until September 2014 traveled there frequently to win residents’ approval for new deployments.
“Unlike officials sitting in the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo, they are more attuned to the threat they face every day.”