Japan strengthens ties with its Western allies, with Britain and Italy finally making progress after months of talks regarding its next-generation combat jet project cooperation on Friday, December 9. This marks Japan’s first major industrial defense collaboration outside the United States since World War II, serving as a significant bridge to further deepen the relations between Europe and Asia.

Reuters reported in July that after five long years of dialogue, London and Tokyo agreed to merge their next-generation jet fighter programs, Britain’s Future Combat Air System, known as Tempest, and Japan’s F-X venture dubbed as the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP).

With tensions on the rise in Asia, Japan hopes the project will help boost its military capability and defend itself against its hostile neighbors, while Britain aims to take on a bigger role as a security ally in the region. Regional stability equals global economic growth, the key factor the latter aims to maintain.

“We are committed to upholding the rule-based, free, and open international order, which is more important than ever at a time when these principles are contested, and threats and aggression are increasing,” the three nations said in a joint statement.