Plans for the high-profile carrier strike group visit come as London deepens its security ties with Tokyo, which has expressed growing concern in recent months over China’s territorial ambitions in the region, including Taiwan.
“Following the strike group’s inaugural deployment, the UK will permanently affect two ships in the region from the end of the year,” UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said in a joint announcement in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi.
After arriving in Japan, Kishi said, the Queen Elizabeth and her escort ships would separate for separate stops at US and Japanese naval bases along the Japanese archipelago.
A close ally of the United States, Japan is home to the largest concentration of American military forces outside of the United States, including ships, planes and thousands of navies.
British ships will not have a permanent base, a spokesperson for the British Embassy in Tokyo said when asked which ports the Royal Navy ships would operate from.
The Queen Elizabeth is escorted by two destroyers, two frigates, two support ships and ships from the United States and the Netherlands.
It will arrive in Japan via the South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by China and Southeast Asian countries, with stops in India, Singapore and South Korea.
As a further sign of Britain’s growing regional engagement, Wallace, who visited Japan with a delegation of military commanders, said Britain would eventually deploy a coastal strike group as well, a marine unit trained to undertake missions including evacuations and counterterrorism operations.