Since 1951, the alliance with the United States has so predominated Japanese security considerations that the UK-Japan security partnership, its origins and revival, have received limited attention. Previous UK-Japan security partnerships had existed as imperial alliances prior to the Great War, in which they fought as allies, and re-emerged in the most unlikely situation amid immediate postwar animosity as Britain sought to deal with surrendered Japanese troops and recolonise large areas of South-East Asia. Cooperation occurred during the occupation of Japan, and expanded to include Korean War minesweeping, yet from 1951 Anglo-Japanese security engagement lay largely dormant other than defence technology trade until a return to minesweeping cooperation in 1991. The re-founded security partnership can be traced to this naval operation, and to civilian and military personnel forming functional relationships during peace, humanitarian, and security operations. Despite lacking an Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan, the UK was the first non-alliance strategic partner to conduct air combat training and army exercises in Japan, while continuing extensive naval cooperation. Brexit shocks, however, dented images of the UK as Japan’s gateway to Europe for trade and security collaboration. This paper examines the century from Anglo-Japanese alliance, through post-war occupation/re-armament, Cold War stasis, to post-Cold War engagement and partnership, combining historical and International Relations methodologies. It attempts to evaluate how the UK-Japan security relationship changed throughout the twentieth century, how it developed in the century from the end of the alliance up to 2022, and what continuation can be charted through alliance, wars, animosity, distant trading amity, and to the embrace of strategic partnership? Many of these elements are to be included in a Thomas W. French (Ritsumeikan University) edited volume (2022).


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