Australia, Japan set to sign security agreement amid rising China tensions
Japan and Australia are expected to sign a new security agreement during a visit by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to Perth on Saturday, strengthening ties between the long-time partners amid rising tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.
The new plan would update a previous agreement signed in 2007 under Kishida’s predecessor Shinzo Abe and then-Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Kyodo News of Japan reported.
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Australia and Japan have been building closer diplomatic and security ties over the past decade, with both sharing concerns over what they see as the assertiveness of an increasingly powerful China in the region.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the new agreement would be more “ambitious” than the 2007 version, which had focused primarily on the threat of terrorism.
Since the 2007 agreement was signed, China has rapidly expanded its military and diplomatic footprint, building up artificial islands in the South China Sea and regularly conducting military exercises around the democratically run island of Taiwan.
Australian government officials were not immediately available for comment on the reports.
At their first meeting in May, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Kishida said they were working toward a new Japan-Australia Joint Declaration to deepen security cooperation between their two countries.
In that meeting, Albanese and Kishida discussed China’s use of economic coercion against Australia and the security agreement between Beijing and the Solomon Islands.
Both Japan and Australia are members of the Quad security partnership, along with the US and Japan.
The four-nation group, which has grown in stature in recent years as a counter to China, has been chastised by Beijing as a “clique” that could stoke a new Cold War.
In November 2020, Australia and Japan announced they had signed a reciprocal security access agreement, allowing each nation to deploy military forces to the other for training and humanitarian missions if necessary.
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