Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Building a modern partnership rooted in shared values – Minister spends week in Japan to boost ties [January 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 20 January 2023.

  • Minister for the Indo-Pacific held talks with government counterparts and business representatives on a week-long visit to Japan
  • trip showcased cutting edge science and tech collaboration between the UK and Japan, one of its closest partners in the region
  • visit follows the signing of a landmark new defence agreement between the UK and Japan to deepen key security partnership in the Indo-Pacific

In a milestone year for Japan, as it assumes its G7 presidency, the UK has committed to doing more with one of its closest Indo-Pacific partners to boost ties and robustly defend democracy, peace and freedom.

Following the recent signing of the landmark UK-Japan Reciprocal Access Agreement in London, Minister for the Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan spent the week in Japan, seeing first-hand the vital collaboration between the 2 countries on everything from trade to education.

Defence and security are at the heart of the UK-Japan relationship, with the newly announced treaty allowing UK and Japanese armed forces to more easily carry out joint training activities and exercises.

This builds on increasingly close military ties, including the Global Combat Air Programme announced in December 2022, and cements the UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific.

Minister for the Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

Japan is one of our closest partners in Asia. From science and innovation to defence and digital, we are developing a modern, cutting-edge partnership that is rooted in our shared values.

My visit has showcased the depth of that collaboration, with so many more opportunities for investment, research and talent to be shared between our 2 countries.

The Minister saw Cambridge-based AstraZeneca’s Tokyo headquarters, where she set out the UK’s ambition to deepen collaboration with Japan in research, technology and innovation as 2 leading science superpowers. Deepening these links will grow both countries’ economies, creating better-paid jobs and opportunities right across the UK and Japan.

While in Japan’s capital, the Minister met Japanese graduates from UK universities to launch a new British Council alumni network, which will maintain the strong links between the UK and Japan’s world leading universities. The Minister also attended a Women in Parliament event alongside Japanese MPs, to hear about initiatives to promote women’s participation in political life.

Beyond Tokyo, the Minister travelled to Kobe to visit leading healthcare technology firm Medicaroid to hear about its work developing the next generation of surgical robots, supported by investors to the UK Sysmex and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

In Osaka, the Minister met with the Organising Committee of the Osaka Kansai Expo 2025 and held talks with senior business figures, including the head of the Kankeiren, a regional federation of 1,300 businesses, organisations and educational corporations. They discussed the UK government’s ambition to strengthen economic ties with companies across Japan, as well as the benefits of the UK joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trading bloc (CPTPP) as accession talks continue. Joining the CPTPP will bring the UK closer to a dynamic group of economies in the Indo-Pacific, including Japan, creating opportunities for cooperation not only on trade but also to uphold shared values.

In Hiroshima, the Minister visited the Peace Memorial Museum and Park to lay a wreath and meet atomic bomb survivors, and reiterated the UK’s commitment to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. She also met the Mayor and Governor of Hiroshima as the city prepares to host the G7 Leaders’ Summit in May.

Minister Trevelyan met counterparts from the Japanese Government including Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kenji Yamada, with whom she discussed Japan’s priorities for its G7 presidency and explored what both countries can do to accelerate support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion. The Minister also held meetings with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Fusae Ota, and Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi.

The trip underlines the UK’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reiterated to Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on his visit to London last week. The region is not only home to likeminded partners with whom the UK shares fundamental beliefs in peace and democracy, but also many of the world’s fastest-growing economies, making it critical to UK prosperity.