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The leaders of Australia and Japan held talks in person on Tuesday and reached a basic agreement on a bilateral defense pact that would allow their troops to work more closely, as the two US allies seek to strengthen their ties to counter. From China growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart, Yoshihide Suga, said the legal framework, called the Reciprocal Access Agreement, would allow their troops to visit each other’s countries for training and joint operations. It would also improve their interoperability and cooperation, they said.

The agreement is the first of its kind for Japan since its 1960 status-of-forces agreement with the United States, which set the terms for the base of some 50,000 American troops to operate in and around Japan under the security pact between Japan and the United States.

The two leaders also agreed to cooperate to address climate change, including “working together for a future of lower emissions and zero emissions,” Morrison said at a joint press conference.

Scott Morrison and Yoshihide Suga
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga elbow to greet before the official welcoming ceremony at Suga’s official residence in Tokyo on November 17, 2020. (AP)

He called the defense agreement a “historic” development for the two countries, which are allies of the United States and do significant trade with China. Australia and Japan also have very strong and positive relationships with all the Indo-Pacific countries, Morrison said.

Japan is committed to maintaining and deepening its 60-year alliance with the US as the cornerstone of its diplomacy and security, but in recent years it has sought to complement its regional defense by intensifying cooperation with others, especially Australia, amid of Chinese growth. maritime activity.

Japan officially limits itself to self-defense and bans the first strikes under its pacifist post-WWII constitution, but increased its defense role and spending under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe pushed for greater military cooperation and arms compatibility with the United States as Japanese forces increasingly work alongside American troops. It also increased purchases of expensive American stealth fighters and other weapons.

Suga, who took office in September after Abe resigned due to health problems, is continuing the diplomatic and security policies of his predecessor.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to the media after having a phone conversation with US President-elect Joe Biden.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to the media after having a telephone conversation with US President-elect Joe Biden. (AP)

Japan views Australia as a semi-ally, and the two countries signed a defense cooperation agreement in 2007, Japan’s first with a country other than the United States. The two nations agreed to share military supplies in 2013 and expanded the agreement in 2017 to include ammunition after Japan eased restrictions on transfers of weapons equipment.

Suga said Japan and Australia are “special strategic partners” who are committed to core values ​​such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and are working together to achieve peace and stability in the region.

Suga said the new agreement supports his determination to contribute to regional peace and will elevate (asterisk) our security cooperation to a new level. “

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives in Japan to speak with his leader, Yoshihide Suga
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives in Japan to speak with its leader, Yoshihide Suga. (9News)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is ready to discuss a coronavirus travel, trade, defense and security bubble with Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is ready to discuss a coronavirus travel, trade, defense and security bubble with Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. (9News)

In a joint statement, Suga and Morrison expressed “serious concerns about the situation” in the South and East Seas of China and “strong opposition” to the militarization of the disputed islands and other unilateral attempts to change the status quo, without identifying China, indicating its sensitivity to its largest trading partner.

Japan has initiated a vision of economic and security cooperation called “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” as a counterweight to China’s influence, and recently organized talks between the foreign ministers of four countries known as Quad: Japan, the United States, Australia and India.

Those four nations are now looking to add more countries, from Southeast Asia and beyond, that share concerns about China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

China defends its actions in regional seas as peaceful and denies violating international rules. He has criticized the Quad as an “Asian NATO” to counter China.

Despite its pacifist constitution, Japan’s defense spending ranks in the top ten in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Australia is in the top 15.

– Reported with Associated Press


www.9news.com.au

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