General Sir Nicholas Houghton speaks on the UK-Japan defence relationship at an event hosted by RUSI-Japan.
14 April 2014 – Before an audience of 250 at the Japanese Diet, UK Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton advocated an ‘enhanced and formalised’ UK-Japan defence relationship that would help both countries cope with ongoing global and regional challenges.
Speaking in an afternoon conference chaired by RUSI-Japan’s director, Chiaki Akimoto, and attended by a wide cross-section of Japan’s political and defence community, General Sir Nicholas reflected on the many difficulties facing countries seeking to preserve a rules-based international order.
‘Maintaining stability while accommodating change’ has become, he said, ‘the grand strategic security challenge of the age.' A deepened UK-Japan relationship, built upon the sharing of skills, knowledge and technology, would be a way of tackling that challenge in a manner consistent with both countries’ foreign policy priorities and the need for careful international diplomacy.
General Sir Nicholas was preceded at the conference by the Hon Shigeru Ishiba, Secretary-General of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who offered a Japanese perspective on the future of the UK-Japan partnership.
Mr Ishiba said, ‘It is clear that the basis of Japanese security is an alliance with the United States, but we should consider whether that alone is enough. As Japan and the UK are common strategic partners of the US, we must bond together in a closer security relationship.’
General Sir Nicholas was succeeded by the Hon. Ryoda Takeda, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Defense, who discussed Japan’s defence and security policy aims at an important moment of transition.
This month’s visit reflects the growing importance of Japan, as well as the Asia-Pacific region more broadly, in Britain’s strategic outlook. As part of its ongoing study of the geopolitical implications of the shifts taking place across Asia, RUSI will be holding a two-day conference this autumn, on British-Japanese defence relations, entitled ‘Co-operation in New Security Challenges.’