LONDON (Kyodo) — Japan and Britain signed Thursday a pact to allow their armed forces to provide logistics support to each other, including sharing of ammunition, as the two countries seek to strengthen defense ties.
The so-called acquisition and cross-servicing agreement, signed by Japanese Ambassador to Britain Koji Tsuruoka and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in London, is the third of its kind for Japan following those with the United States and Australia.
Tokyo is seeking to diversify its security policy, which has previously been centered on the Japan-U.S. alliance, amid uncertainties over how new U.S. President Donald Trump will evolve the country’s foreign policy positions, political observers said.
Japan also hopes that the pact will encourage Britain’s further involvement in the Asia-Pacific region amid China’s military buildup in the disputed South China Sea and the rising nuclear threat by North Korea, according to a Japanese government official.
The pact will pave the way for Japan’ Self-Defense Forces and the British military to share supplies, including food, fuel, transportation and equipment during U.N. peacekeeping missions, international relief operations and joint exercises.
In line with new Japanese security legislation expanding the SDF’s role overseas that came into force in March last year, ammunition would also be provided to British forces by the SDF under the pact.
Japan and Britain have recently been strengthening bilateral defense cooperation, holding their first military exercises in Japan last fall.
Japan is also in talks with France and Canada to sign similar pacts, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.