Guido Crosetto is in Japan. The Italian Defence Minister flew to Tokyo for high-level talks, namely with his Japanese counterpart Yasukazu Hamada (whom we interviewed), amid strengthening relations between Japan and Italy and Rome’s growing interest in the Indo-Pacific area.
- According to an official note, the two ministers stressed the desire to further strengthen relations between the two G-7 countries across dimensions, including cyber defence and joint exercises…
- …as well as an exchange between the Armed Forces (including the training of Japanese pilots at the International Flight Training School in Italy) and training campaigns in the Indo-Pacific, where the Italian Defence Force will participate with Navy and Air Force assets and personnel.
The security link. Italy and Japan “share a historical friendship and a special balance between tradition and innovation,” said Minister Crosetto, stressing that “the geographical distance between the Mediterranean and the Indo-Pacific is less than one might imagine… In fact, the two regions are strongly interconnected in terms of security and development.”
- Today, “the world has become smaller and smaller, crises have increased, and the situation is likely to worsen in this decade. The future of the Mediterranean depends on what happens in the Indo-Pacific and vice versa. And that is why our nations must work and cooperate together. Only by joining forces will we be able to counter the magnitude of problems and challenges ahead.”
- Acknowledging the ongoing “period of growing strategic competition and progressive deterioration of our security,” the Italian minister remarked that shared values between Rome and Tokyo, as well as a shared vision of future challenges, “give the relations between our countries, especially in the area of defence, an even higher value.”
UK and the GCAP. The Italian and Japanese Defence Ministers also held trilateral talks with their United Kingdom homologue, Ben Wallace. As Minister Crosetto noted, the three “are united by the same destiny, and today we have laid a stone to build an important future together.
- The three countries share a crucially important dossier: cooperation on the development of the sixth-generation fighter jet, the Global Air Combat Programme, which London, Rome and Tokyo signed upon in early December.
- “The alliance between our governments and Defence industries represents an example of reference for future international collaborations,” said Mr Crosetto.
- Other than being “an industrial and technological choice,” the GCAP is “first and foremost a political choice of three important nations that have decided to embark on a common path that will allow their Armed Forces to cooperate together in various fields,” stressed Minister Crosetto.
- Claims circulated regarding Italy’s contribution to the project – according to which Rome would have footed 20% of the bill, with London and Tokyo covering 40% each. Both Ministers Crosetto and Wallace rejected them.
- The final part of the trilateral was also attended by the CEOs of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, BAE Systems and Leonardo, the three companies that lead the project for Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy.
A values-based alliance. Thursday’s meeting was geared at strengthening the GCAP partnership, which, as was reasserted, is steeped in the shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. And as Minister Crosetto noted, the programme remains open to other like-minded countries.
- All three ministers acknowledged the project will have positive knock-on effects in the fields of technology, innovation, research and development in aerospace, defence and security, bringing “an unprecedented set of capabilities that will become fundamental to maintaining global stability, creating the necessary conditions to ensure continued development in the defence field for decades to come.”