Japan, Australia to sign defense treaty amid China rise in Indo-Pacific

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The Reciprocal Access Agreement will enhance interoperability and collaboration between the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the Australian Defense Force, including facilitating faster deployment of defense personnel and easing restrictions on the transportation of weapons and supplies for joint training and disaster relief operations.

“This treaty will be a statement of our two nations’ commitment to work together in meeting the shared strategic security challenges we face and to contribute to a secure and stable Indo-Pacific,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.

Australia will be the first country after the United States to conclude such an agreement with Japan.

“Australia shares universal values, such as freedom and democracy, and is a special strategic partner with whom we have been advancing cooperation through various frameworks, including the Quad” four-nation grouping also involving the United States and India, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said in Tokyo, as he announced Thursday’s meeting with Australia.

Matsuno said in a regular news conference that the two sides are “expected to hold candid discussions on key common issues, such as security, the economy and regional conditions, and affirm deepening cooperation to further strengthen Japan-Australia relations and realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had been considering a visit to Australia in January to sign the agreement but said Tuesday he would abandon the plan for an in-person summit to focus on the COVID-19 response in Japan. — Kyodo News

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