Australia and Japan sign historic strategic partnership agreement

Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister Kishida met virtually on 6 January 2022.

CAPTION: JS Murasame departs Darwin after a brief, unpublicised visit. See related story here. CONTACT-exclusive photo by Barrie Collins.

The two leaders reaffirmed the fundamental and enduring importance to both countries of the Special Strategic Partnership.

The SSP is based on a shared commitment to democracy, human rights, free trade and a rules-based international order, close coordination to contribute to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific and beyond, longstanding trade and investment ties, and the deep affinity between the Australian and Japanese peoples.

They reconfirmed that annual leaders’ meetings play a significant role in strengthening coordination to ensure that the partnership continues to respond to the evolving strategic and economic environment.

Security and defence cooperation

The two leaders today signed the landmark Reciprocal Access Agreement between Australia and Japan (Australia-Japan RAA), underscoring their commitment to further elevating bilateral security and defence cooperation in the interests of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Australia-Japan RAA will establish standing arrangements for the Australian Defence Force and the Japan Self-Defense Forces to facilitate cooperative activities such as joint exercises and disaster relief operations, including those of greater scale and complexity, while improving the interoperability and capability of the two countries’ forces.

They confirmed their intention to pursue the completion of respective domestic procedures necessary to give effect to the Australia-Japan RAA as early as possible.

The two leaders confirmed the importance of promoting cooperation between the Japan Coast Guard and Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, including to facilitate information-sharing and cooperation on maritime domain awareness.

The two leaders pledged to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on economic security.

They committed to deepening collaboration to address illicit technology transfers, build resilient supply chains and strengthen the protection of critical infrastructure.

They committed to significantly elevate our cooperation architecture on cyber and critical technology, including for promoting research and development of critical technologies such as AI and quantum, promoting the application of international law and agreed norms in cyberspace, and cooperating on standards setting in international fora.

They further underlined the need to strengthen cooperation on resource security, including by developing resilient critical minerals supply chains.

The two leaders pledged to further deepen and broaden security and defence cooperation between the two countries to address current and future threats and challenges.

In this regard, they looked forward to issuing a new Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation to serve as a compass for the two countries’ engagement for years to come, reflecting the significant development of bilateral security cooperation and the evolution of the regional strategic environment since the milestone Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation signed in 2007.

They instructed the respective relevant officials to expedite work toward issuing the new Joint Declaration at the earliest opportunity.


Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and beyond

The two leaders concurred that Australia and Japan will play a significant role in realising a free and open Indo-Pacific, which is also inclusive and prosperous, and in strengthening regional resilience.

Amid growing challenges to the fundamental values shared by the two countries and their partners, the two leaders reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to a regional order where the rights, freedoms and sovereignty of all countries, regardless of size or power, are protected by international law, rules and norms.

They recommitted to opposing coercive behaviour and to countering harmful disinformation.

The two leaders welcomed the strong and enduring contribution of the United States to stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and the US commitment to close cooperation with allies and partners.

They reaffirmed the importance of reinforcing the two countries’ alliances with the United States and promoting Japan-Australia-US cooperation, including the enhancement of interoperability and the promotion of quality infrastructure, with a view to contributing to broader regional stability and prosperity.

They looked forward to strengthening cooperation with the United States on security and defence, including through the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) and the Trilateral Defence Ministers’ Meeting. They also welcomed the US intention to develop an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

The two leaders welcomed the growing quadrilateral cooperation among Japan, Australia, India and the United States, and looked forward to the next Quad leaders’ meeting this year to drive forward coordinated responses to the most pressing challenges faced by regional countries, including through supporting the production and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and the development of quality infrastructure.

Prime Minister Kishida reiterated Japan’s support for the Australia-UK-US security partnership, AUKUS, the development of which will contribute to regional peace and stability.

The two leaders concurred on the vital role of the European Union and European partners in contributing to prosperity, stability and resilience in the Indo-Pacific, and to upholding international law and an open multilateral system based on shared values and shared interests.

The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to partnering with Southeast Asia in pursuit of shared goals of prosperity and stability in the region, and reiterated their steadfast support for ASEAN centrality and ASEAN-led regional architecture, including the East Asia Summit as the Indo-Pacific’s premier leader-level forum to discuss the region’s most pressing strategic challenges.

They also reaffirmed their support for the principles of ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and for its practical implementation.

The two leaders underscored their commitment to reinforce ASEAN’s efforts on COVID-19 response and recovery.

The two leaders affirmed their commitment to strengthen cooperation with Pacific island countries to help them respond to the impacts of climate change and recover from the severe and ongoing health and economic impacts of COVID-19, including supporting these countries to safely reopen their borders.

Prime Minister Morrison expressed his support for Japan’s cooperation with Pacific island countries under its Pacific Bond (KIZUNA) Policy.

They welcomed trilateral cooperation with the United States on the East Micronesia undersea cable project, in partnership with the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati and Nauru, and reiterated their intention to explore further opportunities for infrastructure cooperation, noting that secure and quality infrastructure will serve as a foundation of sustainable and resilient economic development of Pacific island countries.

Prime Minister Kishida welcomed Australia’s recent quick response, with Pacific family partners, to the civil unrest in Solomon Islands and its contribution to the restoration of order, following a request from Solomon Islands.

The two leaders reiterated serious concerns about the situation in the South China Sea, and underlined the importance of being able to exercise rights and freedoms consistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

They reaffirmed their strong objection to China’s unlawful maritime claims and activities that are inconsistent with UNCLOS.

They recalled that the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal decision is final and legally binding on the parties to the dispute.

They strongly opposed any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force.

The two leaders expressed serious concerns about the situation in the East China Sea, which undermines regional peace and stability.

They shared the intention to remain in close communication about the situation in the East China Sea and expressed strong opposition to any destabilising or coercive unilateral actions that seek to alter the status quo and increase tensions in the area.

The two leaders also underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encouraged the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.

The two leaders shared serious concerns about reported human rights abuses against Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

They also expressed their grave concerns over the erosion of democratic elements of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s electoral system and the undermining of the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

The two leaders condemned North Korea’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, reiterating their commitment to achieving the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, and ballistic missiles of all ranges of North Korea.

They urged North Korea to comply with its obligations under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) and emphasised the importance of the international community fully implementing the UNSCRs.

They called on North Korea to end human rights violations and to resolve the Japanese abductions issue immediately.

The two leaders reiterated their grave concerns about the situation in Myanmar and called for the immediate cessation of violence against civilian populations, the release of all those arbitrarily detained, including foreigners, and unhindered humanitarian access.

They urged the Myanmar military regime to implement ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus and encouraged the international community to work together to support an end to the violence, including by preventing the flow of arms into Myanmar.

The two leaders reaffirmed that the two countries will work closely with each other to maintain and strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, including through activities in the framework of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI).

The two leaders stressed that the 40-year long decline in global nuclear arsenals must be sustained and not reversed.

In this regard, the two leaders welcomed the extension of the New Start Treaty by the United States and Russia and looked forward to the development of future arms control frameworks that involve other countries and a wider range of weapon systems.


Trade and economic cooperation

The two leaders confirmed their commitment to a free, fair, inclusive and rules-based trade and investment environment, noting that open and transparent trade settings build trust and prosperity and support economic recovery.

They reaffirmed their resolve to uphold and strengthen the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core, and concurred on the need to hold the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference at the earliest opportunity.

They opposed the use of economic coercion, which undermines the rules-based trading system and the links between nations fostered by economic engagement.

The two leaders looked forward to the continued successful implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and its expansion to those able to fully meet, implement and adhere to its high standards and with a demonstrated pattern of complying with trade commitments.

They reaffirmed the importance of the CPTPP to promote free trade, open and competitive markets and economic integration in the region.

They recognised the strategic significance of the CPTPP and noted that economic coercion and unjustified restrictive trade practices are contrary to the objectives and high standards of the Agreement.

They welcomed the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement on 1 January 2022 and determined to work towards full implementation of the Agreement.

They further committed to continue working with like-minded countries to explore ways to strengthen ties on regional digital trade.

The two leaders welcomed the contribution the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) has made to boosting bilateral trade and investment since its entry into force in 2015, and reaffirmed that they will commit to the full implementation of the Agreement.

Prime Minister Morrison confirmed that Australia looked forward to participating in the Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan, as an opportunity to further strengthen and broaden the trade, investment and people-to-people links between the two countries.

Prime Minister Kishida welcomed Australia’s participation and expressed his gratitude for Prime Minister Morrison’s wish for every success in preparations for the Expo.

The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to close cooperation under the Japan-Australia Partnership on Decarbonisation through Technology towards their common commitment to achieve net zero by 2050.

Australia will dedicate funding from its A$565.8 million for strategic international partnerships to the bilateral partnership on decarbonisation through low emissions technology, while Japan will use its ¥2 trillion (A$24.5 billion) Green Innovation Fund to help Japanese companies invest in technologies contributing to carbon neutrality, recognising the potential of international cooperation with relevant countries such as Australia.

Japan also welcomed Australia’s establishment of the Australian Clean Hydrogen Trade Program, which will commence with A$150 million to support projects to develop clean hydrogen (and hydrogen derivatives, such as clean ammonia) supply chains with an initial focus on the export of clean hydrogen to Japan.

The two leaders also reaffirmed their joint commitments, as well as the commitments of Japanese and Australian businesses, to the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project, and noted the importance of the project as a world-leading demonstration of a clean hydrogen supply chain.

They also welcomed ongoing clean fuel ammonia projects in order to establish a stable and affordable clean fuel ammonia supply chain.

They also reaffirmed their close collaboration on energy transition in the Indo-Pacific, with a particular focus on Southeast Asia, through Japan’s Asian Energy Transition Initiative and the Indo-Pacific Clean Energy Supply Chain Forum to be hosted by Australia in 2022.






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Posted by Brian Hartigan

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