UK and Japan ramp up security ties over threat from North Korea, Theresa May confirms

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The UK will ramp up security ties with Japan in a bid to counter “aggressive acts” from North Korea, the Prime Minister has said.

Theresa May hailed the growing defence partnership between the two countries as she toured Japan’s flagship aircraft carrier.

Mrs May was taken round the Japanese maritime self-defence force’s carrier Izumo, where British forces personnel are currently sharing mine clearance expertise.

Following a series of nuclear missile launches by Pyongyang that have left Japan on high alert, work on cyber security, counter-terrorism and defence will be stepped up, Mrs May said.

Prime Minister Theresa May meets crew on board the Japanese aircraft carrier (PA)

North Korea defied a unanimous vote of condemnation at the UN Security Council by suggesting it would stage further tests of nuclear-capable missiles on Wednesday.

State media said the Japan flight was “the first step” of military operations in the Pacific and again threatened the US island of Guam, calling it “an advanced base of invasion”.

A missile launched on Tuesday caused air raid alerts as it crossed over Japan’s Hokkaido island, before landing in the sea.

Theresa May signs a visitors book on the vessel (PA)

The UN Security Council held an emergency session and branded the missile flight “outrageous”.

Mrs May and Japanese leader Shinzo Abe are set to agree a new pact that includes deployment of HMS Argyll to the region in December next year at a meeting of the National Security Council in Tokyo today.

Theresa May with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe before a rail trip into Kyoto

Joint training exercises between UK and Japanese troops are also expected to take place.

Ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the UK will give advice on cyber security and both countries will work more closely on tackling terrorism.

Theresa May with Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera as she signs a visitor’s book on escort vessel Izumo in Yokosuka (AP)

Mrs May will follow former Australian premier Tony Abbott to become only the second foreign leader to attend the security council.

She will also visit the headquarters of the Japanese maritime self-defence force where the flagship aircraft carrier IZUMO is based.

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.”

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