Australia, Japan sign bilateral defense treaty

Leaders hail treaty saying it will take Japanese-Australian security cooperation to new heights.

ANKARA (AA) – Australia and Japan on Thursday signed what they called a “historic” treaty to strengthen bilateral defense and security cooperation.

The Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) was signed during a virtual summit between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart Kishida Fumio, according to a statement.

“I’m sorry we could not be doing this in person, as I’m sure you are also, here in Australia, but I very much respect and understand the need for us both to be also very focused on the challenges that we are facing domestically to deal with the omicron variant of COVID,” Morrison said in his opening remarks.

The two countries launched discussions on the RAA in 2014 and reached an agreement in November 2020.

The treaty will underpin greater and more complex practical engagement between the Australian Defense Force and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

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

After the US, which has around 50,000 soldiers deployed in Japan, Australia is the second country with which Tokyo has signed such a defense accord.

Morrison called the agreement as “the first of its kind for Japan” and said it “demonstrates strength of both countries’ close relations.”

“This treaty… will form an important part of Australia’s and Japan’s response to the uncertainty that we now face,” Morrison told Kishida.

– Energy project

The Australian premier also announced a 150-million-Australian-dollar ($107-million) investment in clean hydrogen energy supply chain projects under the Japan-Australia Partnership on De-carbonization through Technology.

“This will accelerate the development of an Australian export hydrogen industry which can be a supplier of choice for Japan and the region,” he said

He also announced his country’s participation in the Osaka World Expo in 2025.

The deal expands on efforts by the US, Japan, India and Australia – the Quad – amid concerns about China in the Asia-Pacific region.

Last year, Australia, the US and UK signed the AUKUS security pact, which is seen as another attempt to counter China’s expanding economic and military influence in the region.

Tokyo is mulling to reach a similar pact with the UK and the negotiations are going on since last October. Japan is also in talks with France.

Japan’s death penalty had been an issue as Canberra was insisting that capital punishment for its soldiers, if convicted in any case in Japan, be exempted.


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