Royal Navy to deploy HMS Argyll to Japan next year

Royal Navy will deploy its Type 23 ‘Duke’ class frigate, HMS Argyll (F231) and a small number of service personnel to Japan next year for military exercises, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced.

The warship deployment is scheduled in December 2018 and underscores the stepping up of the UK-Japan defence cooperation. The announcement came amid escalating tensions with North Korea in the region.

Speaking in Japan, Mrs May said: ”As two outward-facing countries with many shared priorities and shared challenges, Japan remains a natural partner for us on defence and security issues.

“I am determined that our defence and security co-operation will continue to go from strength to strength, enhancing our collective response to threats to the international order and to global peace and security, through increased co-operation on defence, cyber security, and counter-terrorism. And that must include confronting the threat that North Korea poses and ensuring the regime stops its aggressive acts”, she added.

Mrs May’s announcement comes after the North Korea launched an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan before it broke into the three pieces and landed in the sea.

May, who is in Japan on an official visit, is reportedly just the second foreign leader to attend a meeting of the National Security Council after Australia’s then-prime minister Tony Abbott in 2014. The Council, which was created at the end of 2013, consists of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and key ministers.

It will be the first time that armed forces staff other than that of US have trained alongside Japan’s military on the country’s soil, UK officials said.

Britain will also send cyberexperts to help Japan to prepare for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

The announcement was made by the Prime Minister before attending a meeting of Japan’s national security council, an invitation intended to symbolise the two countries’ deepening co-operation. With the Japanese military expanding under Shinzo Abe, Britain is keen to win defence orders.

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