Japan is planning to hold joint naval drills with the United Kingdom during the upcoming visit of the Royal Navy strike group headed by the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said on Tuesday.
“The entry of the UK aircraft carrier strike group to the ports of Japan will not only bring our relations, which have a long history and traditions, to a new level, but will show the UK’s participation in preserving and strengthening a free and open Indo-Pacific region, as well as demonstrate solidarity between Japan and Britain both in terms of security and defense … Taking into account the results of the 2+2 meeting in February this year, we will strengthen interaction with the UK, including joint maneuvers, using the opportunities of [British ships] calling at Japanese ports,” Kishi said at a press conference.
Kishi added that a frigate from the Royal Netherlands Navy would also join the UK naval strike group’s voyage.
The UK government announced on Monday that the country’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will depart for Asia on its first operational deployment in May.
During its 28-week voyage from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, from the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea, and from the Indian Ocean to the Philippine Sea, the UK fleet will visit more than 40 countries, including India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
The 65,000-tonne ship will be escorted on its maiden trip by a strike group made up of two destroyers, two frigates, tanker and storage ships.