The British and Japanese prime ministers will sign a 'hugely significant' new defence deal allowing UK troops to deploy in Japan when the pair meet in London on Wednesday, Downing Street said.
The agreement is the latest sign of London's growing interest in the Asia-Pacific region, and Tokyo's efforts to strengthen its alliances to face the challenges posed by China.
The deal creates a legal basis for the deployment of British and Japanese troops on each others' territory for training and other operations.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's office called it 'the most significant defence agreement between the two countries in more than a century'.
'In the past 12 months, we have written the next chapter of the relationship between the UK and Japan accelerating, building, and deepening our ties,' said Sunak.
'This Reciprocal Access Agreement is hugely significant for both our nations it cements our commitment to the Indo-Pacific and underlines our joint efforts to bolster economic security,' he added.
The negotiations for the treaty, which will be signed at the ancient Tower of London, began in 2021.
Japan inked a similar agreement with Australia in January, and Tokyo has lately revamped its defense and security policies fueling the already rising tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.
On his account, Euan Graham, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the deal is 'quite a significant step up for both countries in terms of their bilateral defense relationship.' British ships and aircraft can visit Japan, although it is 'diplomatically complex' and necessitates foreign ministry approval each time.
The new agreement will create a 'standing framework' instead, according to Graham.
This will allow one side to 'send a destroyer to visit your coast guard, or an army group, or some Royal Marines who wish to train with the Japanese amphibious forces,' Graham said, as quoted by AFP