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Japan, Australia sign pact to strengthen military coordination 

All national dailies highlighted a videoconference between Prime Minister Kishida and his Australian counterpart Morrison held on Thursday afternoon during which they signed a reciprocal access agreement (RAA) aimed at enhancing interoperability and collaboration between the two militaries with China’s rapid arms expansion in mind. In reply to Kishida’s remark that the accord will be “monumental” in elevating bilateral security cooperation to a new level, the Australian leader said: “With this accord, the two nations’ responsibilities will become even more important in a world where uncertainty is deepening further.”  

 

This was the first time for Japan to conclude an RAA with a foreign government. Yomiuri explained that unlike the SOFA with the United States, the RAA will be applied to both militaries equally. A bilateral “joint committee” will be launched to discuss RAA administration. Japan is reportedly hoping to use its enhanced defense coordination with Australia as a model for concluding similar arrangements with the UK, France, India, and Germany to “expand the security network in the Indo-Pacific,” in the words of a senior MOFA official. According to Asahi, MOFA officials are hoping that closer Japan-Australian security ties will encourage the United States become even more committed to the defense of the Pacific.  

 

The two leaders reportedly issued a joint statement afterward reaffirming greater bilateral cooperation to defend outer space and cyberspace and build resilient supply chains. They also vowed to increase security and economic coordination with the two other Quad partners, the United States and India. The two prime ministers voiced “serious concern” about the situation in the South and East China Seas and violations of human rights and civil liberties in Xinjiang and Hong Kong and affirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.  

 

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