Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, right, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pose with documents during a signing ceremony at Suga's official residence in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Pool via AP
politics

Australia, Japan to bolster defense ties amid China's rise

50 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

The leaders of Australia and Japan held in-person talks on Tuesday and reached a basic agreement on a bilateral defense pact that would allow their troops to work more closely, as the two U.S. allies seek to bolster their ties to counter China's growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart, Yoshihide Suga, said the legal framework, called a Reciprocal Access Agreement, would allow their troops to visit each other's countries for training and joint operations. It would also enhance their inter-operability and cooperation, they said.

The deal 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 basing of about 50,000 American troops to operate in and around Japan under the Japan-U.S. security pact.

The two leaders also agreed to cooperate in tackling climate change, including “working together for a lower emission and zero emission future, Morrison told a joint news conference.

He called the defense agreement a “landmark” development for the two countries, which are both allies of the U.S. while maintaining significant trade with China. Australia and Japan also have very strong and positive relations with all countries in the Indo-Pacific, Morrison said.

Japan is committed to maintaining and deepening its 60-year-old alliance with the U.S. as the cornerstone of its diplomacy and security, but has in recent years sought to complement its regional defense by stepping up cooperation with others, especially Australia, amid growing Chinese maritime activity.

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

Abe pushed for greater military cooperation and weapons compatibility with the U.S. as Japanese forces increasingly work alongside U.S. troops. He also increased purchases of costly American stealth fighters and other weapons.

Suga, who took office in September after Abe resigned due to ill health, is continuing his predecessor's diplomatic and security policies.

Japan considers Australia to be a semi-ally and the two countries signed a defense cooperation agreement in 2007, a first for Japan with a country other than the U.S. The two nations agreed on the sharing of military supplies in 2013 and expanded the deal in 2017 to include munitions after Japan eased restrictions on arms equipment transfers.

Suga said Japan and Australia are “special strategic partners” that are both committed to fundamental 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 underpins their determination to contribute to regional peace and will (asterisk)elevate our security cooperation to a new level.”

In a joint statement, Suga and Morrison expressed “serious concerns about the situation" in the South and East China Seas and “strong opposition” to militarizing disputed islands and other unilateral attempts to change the status quo, without identifying China — signaling their sensitivity toward their biggest trading partner.

Australian and Japanese interests are closely aligned but not identical and their approach to China and other countries in Asia differ, says Shiro Armstrong, director of the Australia-Japan Research Center at the Australian National University.

“Deft and strategic diplomacy and cooperation will be needed to manage and navigate the China-U.S. relationship,” he wrote in the East Asia Forum online research platform. “Australia and Japan face challenges that require multilateral solutions."

Japan has initiated a vision of economic and security cooperation called the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” as a counter to China's influence, and recently hosted talks among the foreign ministers of four countries known as the Quad — Japan, the U.S., Australia and India.

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

Tuesday's basic agreement on a Japan-Australia defense pact comes as the navies of the Quad nations hold a joint exercise in the Northern Arabian Sea seen as part of their regional initiative to counter China.

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

Despite its pacifist constitution, Japan’s defense spending ranks among the top 10 in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Australia is among the top 15.

At the end of their news conference, Morrison presented Suga with a set of medals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics and wished Japan success with hosting the 2021 Tokyo Games, which were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


50 Comments
Login to comment

I would have thought the Australian PM of all people would know China has may weapons at its disposal, not just military. His Country has been repeatedly hit with economic warfare on an unprecedented scale since the covid outbreak, robbed of masks and medical supply by Chinese affiliates during the pandemic, its institutions undermined and diplomatic channels frozen.

If he (or Suga) really wanted to ward off China's aggressions, it has to be at all levels, especially economic. But both of them recently sent their countries to future oblivion by entering into the RCEP trade deal. A trade deal that allows China to employ slave labour, subsidize its industries, and unleash human rights abuses and environmental abuses.

How long can this last before the citizens of Australia and Japan becomes slaves as well?

2 ( +14 / -12 )

Funny (not really) how just the other day, there was a story that tried to show how BACKWARDS the US is / was, not being part of this great DEAL they came up with (the chinese, likely) RCEP.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

China and Japan are Australia’s largest trading partners with China being the largest by far. Let’s hope Scomo chooses the right side to support.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

China and Japan are Australia’s largest trading partners with China being the largest by far. Let’s hope Scomo chooses the right side to support.

Japan is the right side for Australia to support. China is a totalitarian state with no regard for international law, human rights, borders and conservation.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

How can we demolish the Chinese base built upon the reclaimed islands and return to original state? We are all powerless against China and U.S. is indifferent. All countries including U.S. have preference in trading with China. It was a big mistake the Philippines got rid of U.S. Forces.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Things definitely would be different in the South China Seas if the US were still at the Clark Air Force Base, but it’s not as if the US can’t be there. It’s the balance of trade with China and keeping them in check, much like the recent Stay Home and Go to Travel campaigns.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

How can we demolish the Chinese base built upon the reclaimed islands and return to original state? 

I think nature will take care of this in time. If you read "Diplomacy" you know there have already been instances of subsidence where big chunks of these man made islands have collapsed requiring emergency repairs. The Chinese built them on top of live coral reefs. Now that the reefs are buried they are dying and collapsing causing the islands built on them to subside. it's kind of like building on a land fill. A couple of big typhoons would be their end since they are only sand piled up on a submerged reef. Nature may very well do what the nations of the free world refuse to do. Just be patient.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Things definitely would be different in the South China Seas if the US were still at the Clark Air Force Base, but it’s not as if the US can’t be there.

The Philippine Senate voted not to renew the base leases with the US in 1992 and has never reconsidered, so it very much is a case of where the the US can't be there. Their current President has even invoked the clause to end the US-Philippine mutual defense pact, though he has been delaying implementation because of strong objections from the Philippine military and recent discomfort with the intentions of China wrt the Philippines.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

China and Japan are Australia’s largest trading partners with China being the largest by far. Let’s hope Scomo chooses the right side to support.

For some of us all the money in the world isn't worth surrendering our freedoms to the likes of the CCP. The democracies of the world need to wean themselves off trade with China and do so rapidly.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

China and Japan are Australia’s largest trading partners

China is NOT a fair trading partner of Australia, or Japan, it's an abusive partner. Just look at all the abuses China has been dishing out to Australia this year.

China is accusing Australia of subsidizing wine export, just like that, out of thin air, with no evidence. If you have bought Australian wine in China, you'd know it's overpriced, not cheap, the only cheap wine are the fake Australian wines that the IP thief are peddling.

RCEP is not a trade deal. RCEP is a vehicle for China to export state subsidized products, or slave labour products, or products made to the detriment of the environment. RCEP should never have been signed without provisions for environmental protection, labour protection, and banning of state subsidies. India appears to have more morals and ethics than Australia in this instance.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

I wonder whether this deal is legal for Japan under the current constitution. I doubt it is.

I agree with other posters that China must be stopped and stopped now or we will all come to regret it

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Japan has to spend more on defense. The price of Freedom is never cheap. While its nice to have Australia's help, it is Japan's duty to keep the Indo-Pacific free and open.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

robert maesToday  08:38 am JST

I wonder, and I really like to see the moderator make a positive contribution here, whether this deal is legal for Japan under the current constitution. I doubt it is.

Why do you doubt it? What part of the constitution do you think prohibits "allowing their troops to visit each other's countries for training and joint operations"?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

How can we demolish the Chinese base built upon the reclaimed islands and return to original state? We are all powerless against China and U.S. is indifferent.

Those stolen islands are sitting ducks. There'll be missiles pointed at them right now.

I think they've been allowed to do this, so they don't invest so much in carrier fleets.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This is the best way for Democratic countries to have bilateral defence each country to stand up against totalitarian states.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This "defense pact" is not an alliance or mutual defense pact. This just allows closer training on each others territory and temporary stationing of troops for training.

Closer ties and more training together to enhance tactics and seeing where each can bolster the others abilities is a good thing. It should make both a little better and whether fighting alone or side by side they will be that much harder to defeat in a fight.

A move towards a mutual defense pact would be the best for both. Neither nation has in the past 75 years picked a fight with anyone, and both promote world peace and rule of law. A stronger united front makes it more difficult for any aggressor to defeat.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Things definitely would be different in the South China Seas if the US were still at the Clark Air Force Base, but it’s not as if the US can’t be there.

The Philippine Senate voted not to renew the base leases with the US in 1992 and has never reconsidered, so it very much is a case of where the the US can't be there. 

I meant the South China Seas. It is international waters and so the US can assert its presence there if it wishes.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This is the best way for Democratic countries to have bilateral defence each country to stand up against totalitarian states.

China is like Japan turn of the 19th century, the up and coming power full of itself. This is why I think the rest will decide to take action and China will eventually be put back in its place much like Japan was.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Photo: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, right, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pose with documents during a signing ceremony at Suga's official residence in Tokyo on Tuesday.  Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Pool via AP

I think someone forgot to bring the documents or they signed super secret pals invisible ones.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

it was a genuine question. Can Japan close this kind of military deals besides with the US under the current constitution? I know it is not a mutual defence pact.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It is good to see that Japan and Australia are teaming up for strategical defences to contain China’s bullying dictatorial expansion.

Let’s hope that Japan can form together with her asian’s partners like India and the others a defensive shield strong enough to mitigate communist China expansionism.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

China and Japan are Australia’s largest trading partners with China being the largest by far. Let’s hope Scomo chooses the right side to support. Do the Hustle

Despite China has been Australia's biggest trading partner, to protect Australia's long-term national interests and uphold fundamental values and principles of justice, apart from the forming of this defence pact with Japan, Scott Morrison has strongly rejected Beijing's illegal claims in the Southeast Asia Sea and also pushed for a global inquiry into the COVID outbreak.

There is no better demonstration of choice than that.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

It baffles me that they think trade or policy friction might result in a hot war, and that such a conflict could ever resolve anything. Given the dependence of both the Japanese and Aussie economies on China, and China's increasing economic and military clout, you'd think they'd try a different tack. What China can't achieve by political means, it will achieve economically. The idea of containment is about as relevant as the domino theory.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Eschew from trusting Japan and Australia too much. They do not seem to be sincere in what they have been doing, especially on matters related to China. Beijing has to be on guard, always..

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

How can we demolish the Chinese base built upon the reclaimed islands and return to original state? 

I believe that once the US and China go to war, China's artificial islands would be destroyed by the US's "mother of all bombs" (GBU-43 MOAB) dropped by its B-2 stealth bombers.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The other day they all signed a trade agreement which included china (silly idea), today they sign a defence training agreement to keep china in check.

Seems one hand does not know what the other hand is doing.

What needs to happen is for china to be kept in check militarily and economically , limit trade with them, move manufacturing away from them, less reliance on the CCP and what produces is good for everyone.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Japan is the right side for Australia to support. China is a totalitarian state with no regard for international law, human rights, borders and conservation.

Err...China is a capitalist society capable of supporting 1 in 6 humans comfortably.

International law depends on who makes it. Does the US belong to the ICC?

human rights? We all no about the Uirgar separatists who want to create a separate nation, like IS or California. Japan, Burakku people, asylum seekers, women or gay rights?

japan invaded Chinese borders, raped killed and and used slave to steal resources.

conservation? Japan has cut down so many trees in SE Asia that you can’t count. Spewing vast amounts of radiation into the Pacific Ocean poisoning many countries.

CHINA...building schools, roads, hospitals, infrastructure, transportation, jobs, construction, technology and peace all over the world.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

what legal basis does Australia have to reject Chika's claim ?

Australia is a sovereign nation fully entitled to sail in all international waters. As such any unilateral claims to ownership of universally recognized international waters can be legally objected to and rejected by any sovereign nation.

It has been confirmed that China has no legal basis to claim the SCS. Claims from thousands of years ago that have never been backed up or supported are therfore false and illegal, and are simply a chapter in past history with no relevance in modern times.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Given the dependence of both the Japanese and Aussie economies on China, and China's increasing economic and military clout, you'd think they'd try a different tack.

Given that China relies so heavily on Australian resources you would think China would make moves to improve ties rather than to destroy them. 75% of China's iron ore comes from Australia and without it her factories, shipyards and reliant general manufacturing would shrink by 75%. And that is only one product. Add coal, LNG, precious metals, Copper and everything China needs that it gets reliably from Australia. China is more susceptible to harm if the trade relations break down. If China cant manufacture and build ships as much, then someone else will need the ore and buy it from Australia.

China should tread lightly and show respect to Australia or it may find itself with factories unable to make anything.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Desert Tortoise

I think nature will take care of this in time. If you read "Diplomacy" you know there have already been instances of subsidence where big chunks of these man made islands have collapsed requiring emergency repairs. The Chinese built them on top of live coral reefs. Now that the reefs are buried they are dying and collapsing causing the islands built on them to subside. it's kind of like building on a land fill. A couple of big typhoons would be their end since they are only sand piled up on a submerged reef. Nature may very well do what the nations of the free world refuse to do. Just be patient.

That’s a very good point. I didn’t realize that the Chinese made their islands like that. But considering how a lot of Chinese products are made to be quite frank, it’s not surprising.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Hung Nguyen said "Akie, It looks as if you do not really want to acknowledge that according to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12, 2016, China’s construction of artificial islands and its expansive claim to sovereignty over the waters had no legal basis.

For more details about this ruling, you can refer to the article titled "Beijing’s claims to South China Sea rejected by international tribunal""

First, China has the right to reject any rulings for the sovereignty over China's sea. It is written in the law. Second, there is no such a thing as " international tribunal", let alone reject. The arbitration is illegal before the law, and even it did make the decision, it never rejected China's claim. Do you know why ? Because China's claim is 2000 years older than the arbitration.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

First, China has the right to reject any rulings for the sovereignty over China's sea. It is written in the law. Second, there is no such a thing as " international tribunal", let alone reject. The arbitration is illegal before the law, and even it did make the decision, it never rejected China's claim. Do you know why ? Because China's claim is 2000 years older than the arbitration.

More BS. Some people should take a break from their fantasy world.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I think this move is for both countries to appease both sides, pro- and anti-china. Are there any disadvantages of being diplomatic with your neighbors?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

China and Japan are Australia’s largest trading partners with China being the largest by far. Let’s hope Scomo chooses the right side to support.

There is only one choice and it has been made. *hint- it is not China.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

First, China has the right to reject any rulings for the sovereignty over China's sea. It is written in the law. Second, there is no such a thing as " international tribunal", let alone reject. The arbitration is illegal before the law, and even it did make the decision, it never rejected China's claim. Do you know why ? Because China's claim is 2000 years older than the arbitration. Akie

Akie, Since you have acted as a mouthpiece of Beijing and are supporter of China's 2000-year-old law of the jungle, I just let the viewers of this forum to judge your views.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Better you all hurry up to show political China some limits, as America and Europe have an overwhelming bunch of problems themselves and therefore are not available as active allies, neither economically nor militarily. Maybe that’s valid even not only temporarily, if they don’t come up there soon with a very big last effort. And that’s rather highly probable, that they won’t because of not being capable anymore.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

robert maesToday  10:22 am JST

it was a genuine question. Can Japan close this kind of military deals besides with the US under the current constitution? I know it is not a mutual defence pact.

This is a genuine answer. There is nothing in the two parts of Article 9 or any other part of the Japanese constitution that prohibits this. Perhaps you should actually read it.

It is a mutual defense pact. It now allows for Japanese forces to aid allied forces in actions of collective defense.

https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/q&a/ref/1.html

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Australia is a sovereign nation fully entitled to sail in all international waters.

Carrying WMD weapons capable warships to taunt China is not cricket.

international waters are for trade.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Australia is a sovereign nation fully entitled to sail in all international waters.

Carrying WMD weapons capable warships to taunt China is not cricket.

international waters are for trade.

Australia does not have any weapons of mass destruction. The world is well aware of that fact. China on the other hand does have WMD. Sailing in international waters taunts nobody.

International waters are for all types of vessels including warships from any nation. Look it up.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

international waters are for trade

but building an island out of nothing & setting up a naval base is cricket ?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Because China's claim is 2000 years older than the arbitration

And 2000 years ago, that was relevant.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sh1mon M4sada idiot, RCEP was proposed by ASEAN and will primarily benefit ASEAN. China no longer has labor cost advantage. many manufacturers have already moved to ASEAN counties

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Goodluck

You're having a laugh aren’t you mate? ‘Promoting peace all over the world..?’ Can you back up claims of ships carrying WMD? China has nuclear weapons but we don’t..

As Peter14 says, we are a sovereign nation free to sail in international waters...that are recognised as such under maritime law

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Yeah, that will work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I believe that once the US and China go to war, China's artificial islands would be destroyed by the US's "mother of all bombs" (GBU-43 MOAB) dropped by its B-2 stealth bombers.

Sigh. GBU-43 cannot be dropped from a B-2. It's dropped by a C-130 or C-17.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Carrying WMD weapons capable warships to taunt China is not cricket.

international waters are for trade.

Not true. International waters are open to all ships, military and civilian.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Because China's claim is 2000 years older than the arbitration. 

Except the Nine Dash Line claim is far more recent, dating only to 1946 and invented not by the CCP but thrown out there by the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I expect all of this will be resolved in a peaceful fashion to the benefit of all the owners. Australia, Japan, the USA and China are all owned and operated by the same group of global plutocrats. Why would they fight among themselves and let a third party have advantage?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No reason the fight. The Great Reset is shifting all economies towards the China model since it works better and is more efficient (for some). When that is complete, hold tight, we will be in for smooth sailing!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I believe that once the US and China go to war, China's artificial islands would be destroyed by the US's "mother of all bombs" (GBU-43 MOAB) dropped by its B-2 stealth bombers. Hung Nguyen at 11.39 AM Nov 18 JST

Sigh. GBU-43 cannot be dropped from a B-2. It's dropped by a C-130 or C-17. Desert Tortoise at 04.34 AM Nov 19 JST

Desert Tortoise, B-2 can carry a much heavier bomb than the GBU-43 (please refer to the article titled "‘Mother of all bombs’ is a runt compared with Missouri-based father of all bombs" (https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article144675099.html).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites