All Saturday morning dailies reported from Darwin on the first summit between Prime Minister Abe and his Australian counterpart Morrison on Friday, during which the two officials agreed to deepen bilateral coordination to build a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The two leaders reportedly agreed to wrap up ongoing talks on a bilateral visiting forces agreement early next year. They also reportedly confirmed their commitment to enhance mutual cooperation for “maintaining and expanding multilateral trade systems based on free and open rules.”
In a related development, the dailies reported that Abe and Morrison traveled together to a local cemetery that memorializes some 260 Australians killed in air raids by the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII. The visit was reportedly intended to play up reconciliation between Tokyo and Canberra. Yomiuri quoted a GOJ source as saying that since Darwin, which hosts U.S. Marines on a rotational base, is close to the South China Sea, where the Chinese are stepping up naval operations, Abe’s summit with PM Morrison was a good opportunity to call attention to trilateral cooperation between Japan, Australia, and the U.S.