Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Darwin was rightly billed as historic and “deeply symbolic”. It also delivered some substance, with the announcement of important deals on the financing of regional infrastructure and on deepening cooperation on maritime security. It did not, however, see the signing of the long-anticipated Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA).
There are good reasons to think this agreement will be concluded at some point soon, as there is no doubt that momentum has been restored to the defence and security partnership in the wake of the failed Soryu submarine deal in 2016.
These developments are signs of a growing convergence of perceptions about the security challenges faced in the Indo-Pacific region in Canberra and Tokyo.
The most recent Foreign and Defence Ministers 2+2 meeting, held on 10 October, affirmed that both countries are committed not just to safeguarding a “free, open, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific” but also to collaborative efforts with the US to compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and to more complex joint exercises, including in air defence and anti-submarine warfare. In 2017 and 2018, Australian and Japanese troops were also involved in major multilateral exercises, notably Talisman Sabre and the Philippines-based Balikatan.
Please click here to read the full ‘Steady but slow in Australia-Japan security cooperation’ article at the Lowy Interpreter, written by Griffith Asia Institute member, Professor Ian Hall and Adjunct Associate Professor Michael Heazle.