Former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss of the Conservative Party has been elected as the new Prime Minister of the UK. She is the third female Prime Minister in UK history, after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.
Prime Minister Truss has often been compared to Mrs Thatcher, known as the ‘Iron Lady’ for her strong and determined leadership. But the true worth of Britain’s new leader will soon be put to the test.
Truss faces a series of immediate economic challenges, including battling soaring prices. At the same time, it inherits the diplomatic and security policies of the Boris Johnson administration and must play its role as a world leader in protecting the world order.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. The United Kingdom is a pillar of the countries that support Ukraine. Sanctions against Russia were also carried out by Britain together with the United States. We hope to see Ms. Truss play her leadership to the full in the effort to thwart Russian aggression.
China a ‘threat to UK security’
Prime Minister Truss rightly views China as a “threat” to UK security interests. She has embarked on a policy of reducing Britain’s economic dependence on Beijing, while imposing restrictions on technology exports to China.
For the UK and other European countries, Japan’s cooperation in formulating and implementing policies toward Russia is essential. Japan, for its part, needs the cooperation of the UK and others to deter China’s hegemony and to materialize a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
Britain has increased its presence in the Indo-Pacific and the UK has sent a carrier battle group to Japan in 2021. Further engagement in the Indo-Pacific under the watch of Prime Minister Truss would be welcome.
If the joint Japan-UK project for the development of a next generation fighter aircraft takes off, bilateral security ties will be further strengthened.
Economic prosperity in Britain, the Pacific
Economic cooperation between Tokyo and London should also be encouraged as a priority.
Following Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), Ms Truss played a key role in signing the 2020 Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the UK and Japan. She was the British Secretary for International Trade. Britain has also applied to join the Japan-led Trans-Pacific Strategic Partnership (TPP) deal.
Britain is unmistakably a member of the Pacific group of nations, with several Pacific islands among the UK’s overseas territories. Promoting bilateral cooperation in the fields of economy, diplomacy and security is conducive to protecting international order and promoting peace and prosperity for Japan and the UK.
Currently, the UK is battling soaring inflation, including rising energy prices resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Public discontent has built up and it will not be easy to move the country forward.
Ms Truss has publicly stated that she will come up with a ‘bold plan to cut taxes and grow the economy, and that she ‘will respond to the energy crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills but also dealing with the problems at long term that we have on reserve energy.”
The success or failure of these promises and the prospects for deepening cooperation with Japan will likely determine the active role Prime Minister Truss will play in the international community.
(Read the editorial in Japanese on this link.)
Author: editorial board, The Sankei Shimbun