Australia and Japan have agreed to share more intelligence and deepen military cooperation in what is being seen as a security pact aimed at countering China’s growing military presence in the Asia Pacific region.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida agreed on Saturday to strengthen security ties at the annual Australia-Japan Leaders’ Meeting in the city of Perth.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
As part of the closer partnership, Albanese said Japan’s military would train and exercise in northern Australia alongside Australian Defence Force personnel, and the exchange of intelligence would be boosted between both countries.
In their fourth summit since Albanese took office in May, the two leaders said the agreement would serve “as a compass” for security cooperation for the next decade.
“This landmark declaration sends a strong signal to the region of our strategic alignment”, Albanese said, hailing the officially titled “Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation”.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio @kishida230 and I signed the declaration today in Perth, reflecting the strong and growing Special Strategic Partnership between our two countries.
Together we are accelerating efforts to realise a stable, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific. pic.twitter.com/ltLy4rApOQ
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) October 22, 2022
The Japanese leader said the two nations had been working to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific under “an increasingly severe strategic environment”.
Kishida said he was resolved to examining all options required for national defence, including “counterstrike capabilities”, and he would ensure substantial increases to Japan’s defence budget to achieve his aims.
“I expressed my determination that all necessary options for the defence of our country, including the so-called counterstrike capability, would become contemplated and Japan’s defence capability will be fundamentally reinforced in the next five years, which is supported by Anthony,” he said.
“Through this experience, the bonds that tie Japan and Australia together have become much stronger. And our two countries have become the central pillar of cooperation among like-minded countries,” he said.
Canberra and Tokyo have been focused on increased security ties in response to China’s growing military strength in the region. In May, Kishida and Albanese pledged to work towards a new bilateral declaration on security cooperation.
A previous joint declaration outlined security cooperation between Japan and Australia in areas such as counterterrorism and North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programmes. The two countries in 2014 elevated their relationship to a “Special Strategic Partnership”.
Albanese and Kishida also discussed climate change, expressing support for a regional transition to net zero carbon emissions and boosting investment in clean energy tech.
“Both our countries are committed to net zero by 2050,” Albanese told reporters after a signing ceremony.
Among those efforts, the leaders agreed to help build secure supply chains between the two nations for “critical minerals, including those that are required for building the green technologies of the future,” Albanese said.
Japan is also a major buyer of Australian gas and has made a series of big bets on hydrogen energy produced in Australia, as it tries to ease a lack of domestic energy production and dependence on fossil fuels.
“Japan imports 40 percent of its LNG from Australia. So it’s very important for Japan to have a stable relationship with Australia, from the aspect of energy,” a Japanese official said ahead of the meeting.