British Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed his strong desire to bring "greater exports from Britain into the Japanese economy" in the defense field,
ahead of a Japan visit during which the two countries are expected to agree on the joint development of defense equipment.
Japan's Defense Ministry late last year chose F-35 fighter jets, mainly developed by U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp., as the next frontline fighter plane in the Air Self-Defense Force's arsenal.
The Eurofighter, which is jointly developed by four European nations headed by Britain's BAE Systems PLC, was evaluated highly by the ministry. But it was not chosen, and this led to an increasing awareness within Britain that the country must work to develop greater ties with Japan in the field of defense equipment development.
While emphasizing British companies' "significant expertise in nuclear decommissioning and clean-up," Cameron expressed Britain's continued support for reconstruction in the areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and said he hopes such expertise can be used to rebuild the areas.
Full-fledged negotiations on an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union are expected to start this year.
Asked about the negotiations, Cameron said, "In order to win the argument in the EU, Japan needs to demonstrate its readiness and commitment to tackling non-tariff barriers that prevent European companies doing business in Japan."
Cameron also spoke of North Korea's planned long-range ballistic missile launch, saying, "We are very concerned about what North Korea is doing and planning." He urged North Korea to halt the planned launch and abandon its international isolation.
He also referred to Iran's nuclear development and concern within the international community about Israel's threat to carry out a preemptive attack on the country.
Stressing the importance of avoiding an armed clash, Cameron said, "I think the right path is to put the maximum amount of political, economic and diplomatic pressure onto Iran."
The European Union has implemented an oil import embargo on Iran. Regarding the situation, Cameron said, "We obviously need the Japanese to join us as much as they can by turning away from trade with Iran."
Cameron will arrive in Japan on Tuesday and leave the following day. He will be the first British prime minister to visit Japan in nine years, since Tony Blair's visit in 2003.
During his stay, he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to discuss various issues including the bilateral relationship and the current situation of Asian nations. He will also meet the Emperor. Cameron will be accompanied by a delegation of about 30 British business leaders. With them, he hopes to develop stronger ties with the Japanese market in numerous areas such as nuclear power generation, pharmaceuticals and food-related businesses.
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