Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on Thursday with his British Prime Minister David Cameron to strengthen bilateral security ties between their countries, including a more lax interpretation of the sharing of military technology and materiel, including the development of defense equipment. The two leaders also agreed to seek a more substantive free trade agreement in 2015 between Japan and the European Union, where Britain is one of the 28 members.
Abe and Cameron revealed in a statement after the summit that Japan and the UK will be setting up negotiations on sharing supplies and transportation services between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the British military under an acquisition and cross-servicing agreement. For these negotiations, a “two-plus-two” dialogue will be set up between the countries’ foreign and defense ministers, also according to the statement. Japan has already signed this kind of agreement with the United States and Australia, and is also currently seeking to sign a deal with Canada. Under this treaty, Japan and the UK are agreeing to help each other in humanitarian missions, such as U.N. peacekeeping operations, as well as responding to major natural disasters. The two-plus-two dialogue will be Japan’s fifth following very recent ones with the United States, Australia, Russia and France.
As far as Japan’s efforts to seek free trade with European Union, Abe and Cameron have both set goals of signing a substantive accord next year. Observers are now likely to watch out for the meeting between Abe and EU executives on Wednesday in Brussels, looking out if they will also release a statement along similar lines. Japanese and EU trade negotiators are already in their fifth round of talks, but there has been no significant announcement on specific issues such as the reduction or elimination of tariffs and other trade barriers.