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Asia Minute: It’s been a busy week for Japanese military diplomacy

Britain Japan Boris Johnson Fumio Kishida
Dan Kitwood/AP
Pool Getty Images Europe
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, centre background, walks with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as they review an Honour Guard, during a welcoming ceremony in Westminster, London, Thursday, May 5, 2022. The leaders of Britain and Japan met in London to announce a new defense agreement against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine. (Dan Kitwood/Pool Photo via AP)

While much of the world has remained focused on continuing developments in Ukraine this week, it’s also been a busy week for diplomacy elsewhere. That includes Japan — which has had several top government officials on the road.

Don’t expect Japan to immediately join a boycott of Russian oil.

That was one message from Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry on Thursday, as he met with the U.S. Commerce Secretary.

He told reporters Japan “would face some difficulty to keep in step immediately” with other countries when it comes to shutting down Russian oil imports.

Government figures show that Russia accounts for about 4% of Japan’s oil imports, 9% of its natural gas imports and 11% of its coal imports.

The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was also a topic of talks between Japan’s Defense Minister and his U.S. counterpart this week when they met at the Pentagon.

The United States and Japan also both have concerns about China’s activities in the Indo-Pacific.

Those perspectives were echoed this week in the United Kingdom where Japanese prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday.

The two signed a “defense partnership” that will include joint military exercises.

The BBC describes it as “the first agreement of its kind between Japan and a European country.”

It comes as Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has proposed nearly doubling Japan’s defense spending to a level of 2% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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