The flagship of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group deployment (CSG21), aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, will visit Japan from this weekend. The visit will be a powerful demonstration of the UK’s close and enduring partnership with Japan and the UK’s commitment to maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region.

The visit is part of the maiden operational deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The period in and around Japan will reinforce the UK’s commitment to a resilient international order in which open societies based on shared values grow prosperity and champion free trade. The visit is also an important component of the UK’s renewed focus on the Indo-Pacific, outlined in the Integrated Review. The UK is committed to advancing security, defence and development cooperation with Japan, on the basis of a shared outlook on freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as free trade.

In August, the ships and aircraft of the CSG21 undertook multinational joint exercises with global allies, including the Japanese Self Defence Forces and US Forces Japan. The exercises were designed to build interoperability between like-minded international partners in this globally significant region of the world.

UK Ambassador to Japan, Julia Longbottom said:

The visit to Japan of HMS Queen Elizabeth and other UK vessels of the Carrier Strike Group is a confident embodiment of the close and deepening relationship between the UK and Japan.

The UK is committed to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and as a like-minded democracy is committed to working with Japan to meet shared global challenges, such as cyber security and climate change, and to ensure the global systems that promote the free flow of trade and knowledge are strengthened.

The UK-Japan relationship has a long history. We believe this visit marks the elevation of our defence and security relationship to a new level.

The CSG21 will continue with a programme of bilateral maritime and air exercises with Japan’s Self Defence Forces over the next few weeks. Royal Navy ships from the CSG21, HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, also visited the Japanese port of Sasebo last month.

Whilst in the region, the deployment will also support a range of engagements that promote the UK’s wider international priorities in 2021 as Chair of the G7, as champion of Global Girls Education and as host for the UN Climate Summit (COP26) in November. All activities will be conducted safely and securely and in accordance with the stringent Covid-19 prevention measures of the Royal Navy and compliant with those set by the Japanese government.

UK Defence Attaché to Japan, Captain Simon Staley said:

The Carrier Strike Group’s deployment to Japan and the Indo-Pacific as part of its maiden operational voyage demonstrates the UK’s commitment to work with Japan, our closest security partner in Asia.

To operate alongside the JSDF in exercises covering surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and air warfare, we have pushed our partnership to a new level. In demonstrating our maritime capability and ambition we can work further with Japan in developing equipment together in the future.

Notes to editors:

The Integrated Review, entitled ‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy’ can be found here. As part of its maiden operational deployment, the CSG21 will sail over 26,000 nautical miles, engaging with 40 countries from the Mediterranean to the Indo-Pacific and back again.

This deployment will provide tangible reassurance and security to our friends and a credible deterrence to those who seek to undermine global security.

As the spearhead of UK’s Joint Expeditionary capability and a cornerstone of the UK’s conventional military deterrent, the CSG21 comprises nine ships, 32 aircraft and one submarine and is manned by 3,700 sailors, aviators and marines from the combined forces of the UK, US and the Netherlands.

The fifth generation HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier, at 65,000 tonnes, is the largest surface vessel ever constructed in the UK. Taller than Niagara Falls, her propellers generate the power of 50 high-speed trains. She leads six Royal Navy ships, a Royal Navy submarine, a US Navy destroyer and a frigate from the Netherlands in the largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation. It is equipped with the fifth generation F-35B Lightning multi-role aircrafts. They are being jointly crewed by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and the US Marine Corps.

From defending democratic values and tackling shared threats, to seizing new trade opportunities through engagements with Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Japan, India and others, the deployment marks a step-change in UK engagement in the region. The UK is already investing significantly in the region having been conferred ASEAN Dialogue Partner status, commencing negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and rapidly progressing trade talks with Australia, New Zealand and India.

The UK’s commitment to these enduring defence and security responsibilities in the Indo-Pacific will be enhanced this Autumn by the deployment of two of the newest and greenest Royal Navy warships, as HMS Tamar and HMS Spey set sail from the UK for their permanent assignment in the Indo-Pacific.