Why a Royal Navy officer is serving with the JapaneseWatch
Cdr Simon Staley is primarily employed as an Exchange Officer with the US Navy's Seventh Fleet for his nine-month posting, but says his exposure as the Royal Navy's representative to the wider regional powers sends a "critical" strategic message.
"Due to current standing UK and Nato maritime commitments in other parts of the world – such as the North and South Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf – the Royal Navy rarely deploys assets to the Asia-Pacific these days," 47-year-old Cdr Staley told The Telegraph. "It is the tyranny of distance.
"However, it does have the capability to do so and therefore it is vital that we build and maintain a strong understanding of both this complicated region and our allies within it.
"This is an excellent opportunity for the UK to work closely with not only our long-term US Navy partner, but also now with our highly professional Japanese counterparts for the first time for more than 90 years," he said.
"Of course, we have a lot to share with and learn from the Japanese and US fleets, and this new position allows me to observe and provide UK perspective and nuanced insights that may influence how we best integrate for global operations".
Cdr Staley, who previously commanded the Type-42 destroyer HMS York, arrived in Japan in September 2014 to liaise with the Maritime Self-Defence Forces and is attached to the headquarters of the Seventh Fleet at Yokosuka Naval Base, two hours south of Tokyo.
His posting came about after an agreement of identified necessity between Admiral Sir George Zambellas, the Royal Navy's First Sea Lord, and Vice Admiral Robert Thomas junior, the commander of the US Seventh Fleet, and is designed to improve ties in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Cdr Staley's posting also comes in the wake of London and Tokyo signing a series of agreements to cooperate on maritime security and anti-terrorism efforts, as well as in the realms of space and cyberspace.
And while the US will remain Japan's most important military ally, Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, has made it clear that his government is looking to forge new security alliances with nations that have similar defence concerns and an equal commitment to international security.
Tokyo has also vowed to do more in the areas of antipiracy operations and humanitarian relief.
"We have many similarities," said Cdr Staley. "We are island nations with a commitment to democracy, similar economies and military capabilities, and a shared reliance on the sea for the security and prosperity of our peoples.
"Some 90 per cent of the world's seaborne trade transits nine key global choke points, and with $5 trillion [£3.29 trillion] worth passing through the Asia-Pacific's sea highways annually, this part of the globe now has a major economic significance for the UK," he said.
"And this strategic alliance with Japan now gives us a sure toe-in."
Why a Royal Navy officer is serving with the Japanese - Telegraph
its part of an exchange programme.