Japanese Prime Minister Kiseida Fumio and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison agreed in a virtual summit to enhance cooperation between their two countries. It took years to prepare the agreement.
Australia is strengthening defense ties with Japan, India, the United States and Britain as China seeks to increase its influence in the Indo-Pacific region. These include pressure on Taiwan, the issue of freedom of navigation in the region’s waters, and trade disputes.
Morrison stressed that the mutual access agreement, the first of its kind for Japan, will allow the Australian Army and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to work together seamlessly on defense and humanitarian issues.
Japan is our closest partner in Asia, as evidenced by our special strategic partnership, the only one of its kind for Australia
Note the Australian Prime Minister. “This is an equal partnership between two great democracies committed to the rule of law, human rights, free trade and a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added at the signing ceremony.
Morrison pointed to the need for closer relations with Japan to deal with the new and more difficult environment.
The two sides agreed that they should also enhance their cooperation in the areas of cyber, space and economic security. They also condemned North Korea’s nuclear and missile program after Pyongyang tested a hypersonic missile the day before. Keseda and Morrison also expressed concern about China’s maritime activities and criticized human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. They also complained that Beijing was acting relentlessly against the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Kizida was scheduled to visit Australia on Thursday, but that was ultimately not the case due to the increasing spread of the coronavirus epidemic in Japan.
With the exception of Australia, Japan only had a military treaty with the United States, even in the 1960s. This would allow Washington to station warships, combat aircraft and troops in and around the archipelago.
Cover image source: Getty Images
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