Japan, Australia ink defence deal amid growing Chinese influence

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“This is a landmark agreement that will bring Japan-Australia security cooperation to a new level,” said Kishida in signing the agreement….reports Asian Lite News

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Thursday signed a treaty to facilitate joint exercises and strengthen security cooperation while expressing serious concerns over China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Reciprocal Access Agreement will facilitate faster deployment of Japanese Self-Defense Forces and Australian Defense Force personnel and ease restrictions on the transportation of weapons and supplies for joint training and disaster relief operations, Kyodo News reported.

“This is a landmark agreement that will bring Japan-Australia security cooperation to a new level,” said Kishida in signing the agreement.

Morrison also said the pact “opens a new chapter for advanced defense and security cooperation.” He added that “It will underpin greater and more complex engagement, interoperability and cooperation between the Australian Defense Force and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.”

The joint statement, released after their virtual meeting that stretched over more than 100 minutes, said the signing of the agreement underscored their “commitment to further elevating bilateral security and defense cooperation in the interests of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Kyodo News reported.

In a statement, Kishida and Morrison voiced “serious concerns” about the situations in the South and East China seas, where China has been involved in territorial rows with its neighbors, in a veiled criticism of Beijing’s maritime activities aimed at altering the regional status quo in its favor.

“The two leaders also shared serious concerns about reported human rights abuses against Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, far-western China, as well as Beijing’s crackdowns on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement,” the statement said.

‘Japan-US relations at critical juncture’

Ahead of US-Japan Security Consultative Committee “2+2” Meeting, the newly appointed US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday said that Japan-US relations are at a critical juncture as China is “not a good neighbour, and it is not one that advances the interests of the region.”

Emanuel made the comment in an exclusive interview with NHK World in Washington.

The new ambassador said the two countries are “at a critical point, at a critical juncture, to really advance this friendship, alliance, and the value system that brings the two people and two democracies together to advance us on a set of value systems,” reported NHK World.

He said President Joe Biden had asked him in December 2020 to take the position, before the president took office.

Emanuel said he felt that he would have “very big shoes to fill” not only because of how important Japan is.

Referring to China regarding Hong Kong and the South China Sea, he emphasized that Japan and the US should demonstrate that they can contribute to developing the region, reported NHK World.

He also said he will be honest and forthright “about our strengths and about our challenges that we share together, and be open and receptive to how to solve them together.” (ANI)

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