Japan, Australia agree to boost defense pact amid China's growing threat in Asia-Pacific region

The bilateral security agreement comes in view of mounting concerns over China potentially intensifying its military provocations against Taiwan.

Published: 22nd October 2022 03:04 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd October 2022 03:12 PM   |  A+A-

Australian PM Anthony Albanese, (R), shakes hands with Japan's PM Fumio Kishida after signing a new joint declaration on security cooperation, in Perth, Australia, Saturday, Oct 22, 2022. (Photo | AP)


PERTH: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese agreed to boost practical defense cooperation between the two nations amid growing assertiveness by China in the Asia-Pacific region.

Kishida, who is on a three-day visit to Australia, signed a joint declaration with Albanese in which Japan and Australia agreed to take action against countries violating international rules and norms, Kyodo News Agency reported.

Their agreement came with the concern mounting that may be China intensify its military provocations against Taiwan after Chinese President Xi secured an unprecedented third term.

In the latest declaration, Kishida and Albanese confirmed the significance of a "free and open Indo-Pacific," a vision advocated by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The two leaders did not single out China in the declaration as they may be eager to monitor how Beijing's diplomatic policy may shift following Xi's reelection, reported Kyodo News Agency.

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In 2007, Abe and then Australian Prime Minister John Howard signed a document that recognized "common strategic interests and security benefits embodied in their respective alliance relationships with the United States."

Ahead of the trip to Australia, Kishida told reporters in Tokyo on Friday, "For Japan, Australia is an important nation with which we share universal values such as freedom and democracy as well as strategic interests."

Japan imports natural gas, iron ore and other vital resources from Australia, making it a key partner, according to Kyodo News Agency.

Earlier, Singapore Post reported that Japan, South Korea, Australia and Singapore are all increasing their military budgets and spending as a response to the aggression they have experienced from China.

Japan's relations with China are deteriorating over geopolitical tensions amid strong undercurrents of anti-China sentiments and security threats.

People in Japan have already expressed their displeasure over China making claims on Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands in Chinese).

Meanwhile, Kishida's visit to Australia is the first by a Japanese prime minister since 2018. He had planned to visit Australia in January, but his trip was cancelled after the COVID-19 pandemic. Kishida became Prime Minister in October 2021, according to Kyodo News Agency.

Albanese visited Japan in May for the Quad summit that was held immediately after he took office. In late September, he also made a trip to Tokyo to attend Abe's state funeral. 

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