Japan, Britain Agree to Cooperate in Response to Disinformation; Fighter Aircraft, Interoperability Discussed in 2+2 Talks

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left: British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Defense Minister Minoru Kihara at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on Tuesday

The foreign and defense ministers of Japan and Britain have agreed to boost cooperation in response to “integrated information warfare,” including addressing foreign information manipulation and interference as well as the dissemination of disinformation, according to the joint statement issued after their meeting.

As for the planned development of a next-generation fighter aircraft by Japan, Britain and Italy, the ministers also emphasized the importance of meeting the timeline to finish development by 2035.

The two-plus-two talks took place in Tokyo on Tuesday. Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Defense Minister Minoru Kihara met with their British counter parts James Cleverly and Grant Shapps.

It was the first face-to-face, two-plus-two meeting between the two countries since December 2017.

In the meeting, Kamikawa called for the reinforcement of coordination between the two countries, saying Japan and Britain are “each other’s closest security partners in Europe and Asia,” apparently with China’s hegemonic moves in mind.

The two countries made clear their stance to strengthen their response to information warfare in the joint statement, in response to new security threats posed by the dissemination of disinformation by China, Russia and other parties.

As for the development of a next-generation fighter jet, Japan, Britain and Italy are making final preparations to establish a joint development organization. In the meeting, Shapps indicated his intention to reach an official agreement by the end of this year.

The joint statement also said that the four ministers “welcomed the entry into force of the Reciprocal Access Agreement,” which sets a legal framework for the activities of the Self-Defense Forces in Britain and British military personnel in Japan. The ministers also “reached consensus on ensuring the application of the RAA to increase interoperability,” the statement said.

The ministers “welcomed positive progress in discussions” between defense authorities toward the SDFs’ protection of British military equipment, according to the statement.

As for the ongoing Gaza crisis, the ministers “called for a humanitarian pause.”