Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga signed a breakthrough defense agreement that allows both armies to visit each other territories on the land, air and sea for training and operations.
The pact is meant to strengthen already firm relations between Canberra and Tokyo in areas of national security, trade, economic relations and to maintain the free and open Indo-Pacific region. It is the defense agreement.
Prime Minister Morrison said the two like-minded nations — both liberal democracies with market-based economies — have a special responsibility to help maintain peace in the region. Prime Minister Suga characterised the pact as a reciprocal access agreement, which elevates security and defence cooperation between Japan and Australia to a new level.
Our special strategic partnership became even stronger, in particular, because today we have taken a significant step forward in Japan and Australia reaching in-principle agreement on landmark defence treaty, the Reciprocal Access Agreement, Mr. Morrison commented.
In the Indo-Pacific region, security and defence cooperation between Japan and Australia, which have the will and capacity to contribute to regional peace and stability, is becoming increasingly important, Mr. Suga remarked.
The pact is Japan's first agreement covering foreign military presence on its soil since a status of forces agreement in 1960 that allowed the United States to base warships, fighter jets, and thousands of troops in and around Japan as part of an alliance that Washington describes as the bedrock of regional security.
As it was expected, even though the pact has a defensive character, the Chinese Communist Party in the obscure newspaper expressed its discontent and even appeared to threaten both nations. But the civilized countries in the region are learning to ignore these reactions.
Japan has initiated a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific" vision of economic and security cooperation as a counter to China's influence, and recently hosted foreign ministerial talks among the countries known as the Quad that also include the U.S., Australia, and India.
Those four nations are now seeking to bring in more countries, from Southeast Asia and beyond, that share concerns about China's increasing hostility in the region.
Japan’s defense spending ranks among the world’s top 10, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Australia ranks among the top 15.