Sydney, Aug. 12 (Jiji Press)–Japan expects Australia to take a leadership role in countering China’s attempt to change the status quo in the region and ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told The Sydney Morning Herald in an interview published Thursday.
Kishi warned that China is “trying to change the status quo unilaterally backed by force and coercion.”
The shifting power balance between the United States and China has become very conspicuous while a military battle over Taiwan had “skewed greatly in favor of China,” he said.
“The defense stability of Taiwan is very important, not just for Japan’s security, but for the stability of the world as well,” Kishi said.
He said Japan is counting on Australia to lead efforts in Southeast Asia and the Pacific to counter the influence of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
Australia is “quite influential” in the region, Kishi said. “So, I would like to expect leadership to be demonstrated by Australia” in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific, he said.
The minister also said: “Japan’s defense policy is not targeted at any specific nation. But given that the security environment surrounding Japan is getting even harsher, we must build a structure where we can protect ourselves.”
He said it is up to Japan’s parliament to decide if the country needs to change its pacifist Constitution to meet its security needs.