After North Korea missile, Britain and Japan agree on closer security ties

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (left) is welcomed by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon her arrival for a tea ceremony at Omotesenke Fushin'an in Kyoto, Western Japan on Aug 30, 2017.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (left) is welcomed by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon her arrival for a tea ceremony at Omotesenke Fushin'an in Kyoto, Western Japan on Aug 30, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - The leaders of Japan and Britain pledged on Thursday (Aug 31) to cooperate in countering the threat posed by North Korea, two days after it fired a missile over northern Japan.

“North Korea’s reckless action is a threat” to Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his National Security Council. “Japan and Britain will cooperate to counter this.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May, attending the meeting during a visit to Japan, said: “Through our deepened security partnership, we must work together to enhance our collective response to the threats to international order and global peace and stability.

"And that must include confronting the threat that North Korea poses and ensuring that this regime in North Korea stops its aggressive acts.”

Mrs May toured Japan's flagship Izumo helicopter carrier for a military briefing with Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera before attending a national security meeting.

"My visit today is a sign of the growing cooperation and partnership we have on defence matters," Mrs May told Mr Onodera after inspecting an honour guard at the Yokosuka naval base near Tokyo on Thursday, which is also home to the US Navy Seventh Fleet carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan.

North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Tuesday that passed over Japanese territory, prompting international condemnation.

Mrs May had called on China to put more pressure on North Korea after she arrived in Japan on Wednesday.

The Global Times, a publication of the official People's Daily of China's ruling Communist Party, attacked Mrs May for her comment. "Beijing does not need London to teach it how to deal with North Korea," it wrote.

Following the security briefing, the trip's focus returned to trade and investment.

Mr Abe said on Thursday he had received assurances that Britain's negotiations on leaving the European Union (EU) would be transparent.

Speaking at a business forum before remarks by Mrs May, Mr Abe also said he had trust in the British economy after its departure from the EU and noted that Britain was a very important base for Japanese manufacturing.

During a two-hour train ride between Kyoto and Tokyo late on Wednesday, the two leaders discussed Brexit, with Mrs May talking Mr Abe through the details of a series of papers published in recent weeks setting out her negotiating position.

Mrs May said on Wednesday that Japan's upcoming trade deal with the EU could offer a template for a future Japan-Britain trade agreement, the latest attempt to show investors that Brexit will not lead to an overnight change in business conditions.

Japan has been unusually open about its concerns over Brexit, worrying that 40 billion pounds (S$70 billion) of Japanese investment in the British economy could suffer if trading conditions change abruptly when Britain leaves the bloc.