TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese and British foreign and defense ministers met Tuesday to discuss deeper military cooperation under a new security pact that allows their militaries to enter each other's territory for joint exercises.
Japan and Britain have expanded their cooperation in recent years as concern has grown over China's increasing influence. Japan, whose only treaty ally is the United States, has signed Reciprocal Access Agreements with Australia and the U.K., making them semi-allies.
The talks in Tokyo among Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Defense Minister Minoru Kihara and British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Defense Secretary Grant Shapps are the first since the RAA took effect in mid-October.
They met on the sidelines of a gathering of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations on Tuesday and Wednesday that is expected to focus on the Israel-Hamas war, the Russia-Ukraine war and tension in the Indo-Pacific region.
The four ministers' discussions on Japan-U.K. security ties were expected to include an expansion of joint exercises and cooperation in new areas such as space and cybersecurity, based on an accord reached between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in May.
Last December, Kishida's government announced a new Japanese mid- to long-term strategy to build up its security and defense -- including counterstrike capability -- in a major shift from the country's self-defense-only principle adopted after World War II, citing growing threats in the region, including from China.
While strengthening military relations with longtime U.S. allies, Japan is rapidly developing ties with the Philippines to reinforce deterrence against China as it raises tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
In talks last week in Manila, Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. agreed to start negotiations on an RAA and announced that coastal surveillance radar would be provided to the Philippine navy under a new security grant program in which Japan aims to strengthen the militaries of friendly countries.
Japan has had a longstanding territorial dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea.