Sunday, 19 May 2024

Cleverly’s security and defence mission with Japan after missile scare

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly arrives in Japan today as the country reels from last week’s North Korean missile scare. Mr Cleverly will discuss closer security and defence ties with his Japanese counterpart. It comes amid mounting concern about the threat of conflict between China and Taiwan.

Britain wants to cement new post-Brexit economic partnerships with Pacific-facing nations, but the region is fraught with tensions.

An evacuation order was issued in northern Japan last week when North Korea staged a missile launch.

And last weekend, China simulated precision strikes on targets in Taiwan.

In a further disturbance, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida was yesterday rushed to safety when an apparent smoke bomb was thrown at him before he was due to give a speech.

Mr Cleverly will sit down with G7 partners in the resort town of Karuizawa with the goal of accelerating support for Ukraine and ensuring a “free and open Pacific region”. He will then visit the Pacific Islands and New Zealand.

The Foreign Secretary said: “With increasing competition in the region, it is more important than ever that we promote a free and open Indo-Pacific. It is critical to the UK, to our economy, our security and our values.

“Throughout my visit, I will build on commitments to our friends across the Pacific nations in their bid to promote peace and prosperity in the region.”

The Government has reinforced a post-EU “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific region as a “permanent pillar” of British foreign policy.

Last month the UK signed a deal to join a trade bloc with 11 Asian and Pacific countries, including Australia and Japan.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership will help the UK reach a market of more than 500 million people. Once the UK joins, it will be worth 15 per cent of global GDP.

Mr Cleverly will announce the UK will join the US, Japan and Australia in the Blue Dot Network which offers a quality mark to infrastructure projects in the region.

The initiative is intended to boost projects “in desperate need of funding”, such as electricity grids, schools and hospitals.

Mr Cleverly will then travel to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, announcing £4.5million to help connect communities to clean energy sources. His trip continues to Samoa and then New Zealand capital Wellington.

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