Britain is scrambling to complete negotiations to join a trading bloc of 11 Pacific countries with a combined £9 trillion GDP, a move it hopes could boost UK exports by £18 billion. Prime Minister Liz Truss has said joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership is “top priority”.
In Japan, Mr Cleverly will attend the state funeral of assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. During his visit to Korea, he will visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bordering North Korea and present the British vision for the region at a major summit in Singapore.
He said: “As I begin my visit to the region in Japan, my thoughts are with the Japanese people as we remember the legacy of former Prime Minister Abe – their longest-serving Prime Minister, who brought our two countries closer together.”
The UK has a long-term commitment to the Indo-Pacific region as we seek to establish a larger and more enduring presence than any other European country.
“This in turn will boost economic development, strengthen trade ties and increase security.”
His visit comes as the UK launches a major series of exercises in the Indo-Pacific. Members of the Armed Forces will train with colleagues from Australia, Japan, Korea and other nations in the region.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the Indo-Pacific is “critical” to the UK economy, security and “the world’s ambition to support open societies”.
Four RAF Typhoon fighters and one Voyager air refueling aircraft took part in Exercise Pitch Black in Darwin, Australia.
Around 100 aircraft and 2,500 personnel from 17 countries took part in the epic training exercise.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Security and stability throughout the Indo-Pacific remain of paramount importance and with the Pitch Black exercises and the Royal Navy’s continued presence in the Pacific, we are able to increase our commitment and shared responsibility across the region.” demonstrate and continue to strengthen our close ties with friends and allies.”
The Foreign Office says the visit of 53-year-old Braintree MP Mr Cleverly, who served as Education Secretary in the final era of Boris Johnson’s government, shows the importance of the “Indo-Pacific tilt” – Britain’s policy towards them strengthen influence in the region.
Britain describes Japan as its “closest security partner in Asia” and Japan has backed the UK’s bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.