President Biden has refused to take the situation with North Korea seriously. As they advance their rhetoric and continue testing their long-range weapons, he has sat on his laurels and done nothing. No phone calls, minimal public statements, and no uptick in our military presence in the Korean peninsula.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has stepped up to the plate. Struck between the prime ministers of the UK and Japan at the Tower of London, the deal will help ensure peace. This agreement details their firm resolve to security in the Indo-Pacific region. With each nation having great concern over the growing threat from China, there is a lot at stake here.
Called the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), it will allow the countries to “plan and deliver larger scale, more complex military exercises and deployments.” Focused specifically in the Indo-Pacific region according to reps from the UK, the “rapid” growth of defense as well as improving their security cooperation are a major focus.
Back in March 2022, the UK hinted at this change through its integrated defense review. There they illustrated a strategic pivot towards the Indo-Pacific, and an Australian, UK, and US trilateral agreement working on the amphibious submarine program. The trio is focusing its efforts on deterrence for the South China Sea.
Japan is also stepping up its game. In a move not seen when the US was previously more involved, they are planning on doubling their defense spending over the next five years. This would bring the total to 43 trillion yen, or 314 billion US dollars. With the end goal to keep China at bay, and counter their growth activities, this surge in funding is also enticing the UK to bring troops there.
Unfortunately, the RAA lacks an immunity clause for UK troops. Should they be found guilty of a capital crime, they could still face the death penalty. This clause was something the Japanese would not give the UK during concessions about the agreement. The agreement was reached in principle back in May 2022, but it isn’t until the coming weeks that the individual treaties will be completely signed off on.
The UK and Japan have been working extensively with Italy on the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP). Originating back in December 2022, the three nations are combining the UK’s Tempest/Future Combat Air System program and Japan’s F-X next-generation fighter program. With an initial test flight slated for 2035, the three nations are playing the long game and doing everything they can to get it right.
In a statement, the UK government said “All three agreements reinforce the UK’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific, and exemplify the depth of friendship between the UK and Japan.”
The kind of stability being built between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to strengthen the Indo-Pacific as well as trying to involve other G7 leaders on Ukraine and the stoppage of Russia is something President Biden cannot do. His resolve in the Pacific is as weak as a wet paper bag, so they aren’t working with him. He and his family have no financial interests there (unlike Ukraine), so he sees no need to do more than the bare minimum in the Pacific.
As it stands, the UK and the US have already been working together on Ukraine. The two nations have been supplying training, fighting vehicles, and arms to help them stave off Russian forces. With Biden and his family having financial interests in the region, it’s not been shocking to watch, but it has been disappointing as the mainstream media conveniently leaves it alone.
For Japan, this has become a no-lose proposition. The US keeps providing what they have always done, and other nations like the UK and Italy step up their commitments. It keeps everyone safe, secures transportation, and entices countries that truthfully care to work together more closely.