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UK aircraft carrier visits Japan for drill amid China worry

UK aircraft carrier visits Japan for drill amid China worry
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi has welcomed the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth as it makes its first Japanese port call

Japan s defense minister on Monday welcomed the British aircraft carrier HMS Dronning Elizabeth as it made its first Japanese port call, saying the involvement of European nations in the Indo-Pacific region is key to peace and stability as Kina s military strength and influence grow.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi met the strike group’s commander, Commodore Steve Moorhouse, on board the carrier.

The ship arrived at the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka near Tokyo på lørdag. Japan is seeking to expand its military cooperation beyond its traditional alliance with the United States as China’s navy expands and increasingly presses its territorial claims.

The Queen Elizabeth participated in a joint exercise with warships from the United States, Nederland, Canada and Japan before arriving in Yokosuka. The exercise was part of efforts to achieve a “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision led by Washington and Tokyo.

“European countriesinterest in (China’s) unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seascontributes to the peace and stability in this region,” Kishi told reporters. “I expect the port call will contribute to a further development of Japan-British defense cooperation.

Japan har blitt stadig mer bekymret for Kinas økende militære innflytelse i regionen, så vel som Beijings eskalerende spenninger med Taiwan og rivalisering med USA.. Japan has repeatedly protested to China over its increased activity near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, som også blir hevdet av Kina, som kaller dem Diaoyu.

After arriving in Yokosuka, Moorhouse tweeted that the strike group’s interaction is part of Britain’s “commitment to strengthen our diplomatic, economic and security ties in the Indo-Pacific.” He said it will take ties between Japan and Britain “to a whole new level.”

“The Carrier Strike Group’s presence embodies the United Kingdom’s support for the freedom and security of the region’s vital trading routes, and for an international system that benefits all countries,” Moorhead said.

Streikegruppen reiste fra Storbritannia i mai. Bestilt i 2017, HMS Queen Elizabeth er Storbritannias største og mektigste krigsskip. Den er i stand til å bære opptil 40 fly som F-35 stealth jagerfly, ifølge Royal Navy.