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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Getty/Kyodo)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to visit Japan in mid-February for talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, sources familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

During Johnson’s planned trip on February 15-16, the two leaders are likely to agree to enhance security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, where China has become increasingly assertive of its territorial claims in the eastern seas. and southern China, the sources said.

It would be Johnson’s first visit to Japan since he took office in 2019. But the two governments may change the dates of the trip depending on the level of coronavirus infections in the two countries and Johnson’s political fate, which is threatened by the alleged COVID-19 lockdown. -Last minute parties in Downing Street.

If the visit goes ahead, Kishida and Johnson are expected to call for negotiations on the Reciprocal Access Agreement, aimed at improving interoperability and coordination between the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the British armed forces, to be accelerated, according to the sources.

Tokyo and London launched talks on the RAA last October to facilitate faster deployment of defense personnel and ease restrictions on the transport of weapons and supplies for joint training and disaster relief operations.

The leaders are likely to agree to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific and voice opposition to unilateral attempts to upset the status quo in the East and South China seas in favor of Beijing.

Kishida is expected to welcome Britain’s increased engagement with the region through measures such as sending the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier to Japan last year and London’s request to join the Trans-Pacific trade deal.

The 11-member free trade agreement, formally called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, involves regional economies, including Japan, Australia and Canada.

It would be the second face-to-face meeting between Kishida and Johnson after they met on the sidelines of a UN climate summit last November in Glasgow, Scotland.

British Prime Minister Johnson plans to visit Japan in mid-February.

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