JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.88

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Japan-Australia Defense Ministerial Meeting

Japan-Australia Defense Ministerial Meeting

On April 19th, 2017, Minister of Defense Inada held a Japan-Australia Defense Ministerial Meeting with her counterpart, Senator the Hon. Marise Payne, Minister for Defence of Australia, at the MOD in Japan. During the meeting, the Ministers shared their views on the future of Japan-Australia defense cooperation.

1. Opening

Both Ministers welcomed this meeting as the first since the last Japan-Australia Defense Ministerial Meeting in August 2016. They also stated they hoped to have frank discussions aimed at the further expansion and deepening of Japan-Australia defense cooperation in accordance with the Special Strategic Partnership based on the instructions of both countries’ Prime Ministers to pursue deeper defense cooperation in 2017 issued at the Japan-Australia Summit Meeting in January this year.

2. Japan-Australia Defense Cooperation

Both Ministers welcomed the signing of a new Japan-Australia Acquisition and Cross-Serving Agreement (ACSA) and Trilateral Information Sharing Agreement between the defense authorities of Japan, Australia, and the U.S. as a platform for further strengthening Japan-Australia defense cooperation. They also agreed to continue with efforts aimed at early conclusion of negotiations toward an agreement to reciprocally improve administrative, policy and legal procedures to facilitate joint operations and exercises.

In addition, as new initiatives for further strengthening Japan-Australia defense cooperation, they affirmed that joint training, capacity building assistance, and cooperation in the field of defense equipment and technologies will be further advanced. Both Ministers agreed to look to establish a joint activity in 2018 in Japan involving fighter jets.

Both Ministers agreed to set up Defense Dialogue on capacity building and quickly begin discussions aimed at Japan-Australia collaboration in the field of regional capacity building assistance.

Minister of Defense Inada explained that the JSDF engineering unit in South Sudan taking part in UNMISS will complete its activities and leave the country at the end of May 2017. Minister for Defence Payne was pleased with the success of the JSDF’s contributions to UNMISS and stated the Australian liaison officers working together with the JSDF was a source of pride for the Australian side. They agreed to continue working closely together until the JSDF withdrawal and to explore future opportunities for Japan-Australia cooperation in the field of international cooperation activities.

Furthermore, both Ministers agreed to continue reinforcing trilateral cooperation involving Japan, Australia, and the U.S.

Japan-Australia Defense Ministerial Meeting
Japan-Australia Defense Ministerial Meeting

7th Japan-Australia 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations

7th Japan-Australia 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations

Minister of Defense of Japan, Ms. Tomomi Inada, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mr. Fumio Kishida, Australian Minister for Defence, Senator Marise Payne, and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Julie Bishop, met in Tokyo on April 20th for the Seventh Japan-Australia 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations.

The Ministers welcomed the closer engagement between Japan and Australia since the sixth 2+2 meeting, including Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Australia in January 2017. They reaffirmed their determination to further enhance the Special Strategic Partnership between the two countries, founded on common values and strategic interests including democracy, human rights, the rule of law, open markets and free trade.

The Ministers underlined the importance of ensuring a stable, free and open rules-based order across the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. They recognised the importance of ensuring free and open sea-lanes as well as enhancing regional connectivity, including through infrastructure. They reaffirmed that Japan and Australia will continue to work proactively in this regard, together with our common ally, the U.S., and other like-minded partners. With this in mind, the Australian side welcomed Japan’s greater engagement in the region under its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.”

Bilateral and Trilateral Security and Defense Cooperation

Marking the tenth anniversary of the 2007 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, the Ministers renewed their determination to strengthen security cooperation. They welcomed increased cooperation in the areas of training and exercises, personnel exchanges, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime security, peacekeeping, capacity building, and defense equipment and technology. The Ministers identified a suite of new initiatives to further enhance bilateral defence engagement, including looking to establish a joint activity in 2018 in Japan involving fighter jets of the JASDF and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The Ministers welcomed the progress in their respective internal procedures necessary for the entry into force of the new Japan-Australia Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, signed on January 14th, 2017, which will facilitate greater mutual logistical support between the JSDF and the Australian Defence Force. They acknowledged positive progress in negotiations toward an agreement to reciprocally improve administrative, policy and legal procedures to facilitate joint operations and exercises, and reiterated the expectation expressed by Prime Ministers Abe and Turnbull in January 2017 that negotiations be concluded as early as feasible, preferably in 2017.

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance trilateral cooperation between Australia, Japan and the U. S., underlining the importance of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue and the Trilateral Defence Ministers’ Meeting. The Ministers welcomed the signing of the 2016 Trilateral Information Sharing Arrangement as one of the concrete outcomes of the Security and Defence Cooperation Forum.

Regional and International Issues

The Ministers discussed the importance of working through regional fora to support security, stability, economic growth and regional integration. They reaffirmed the critical role of the East Asia Summit (EAS) as the region’s premier leaders-led forum for strategic dialogue, and welcomed efforts to strengthen it. The Ministers also welcomed the continued contributions of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus).

The Ministers remained seriously concerned about the situation in the South China Sea. They emphasised the importance of self-restraint and their opposition to any unilateral actions which increase tensions. The Ministers also expressed their opposition to the use of disputed features for military purposes and urged all parties to pursue the demilitarization of such features. They reaffirmed the importance of the 1982 United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and urged relevant states to make and clarify territorial and maritime claims based on international law. The Ministers called on parties to disputes in the South China Sea to refrain from using force or coercion in trying to advance such claims, and to seek to settle disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law.

The Ministers also re-emphasised the importance of upholding the rules-based regional and international order, and called on all states to respect freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeded trade. The Ministers encouraged early finalization of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) on the basis of international law, and in light of the award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal under the UNCLOS on July 12th 2016. They reiterated the need for ASEAN member states and China to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety.

The Ministers reaffirmed their intention to further enhance bilateral and Japan-Australia-U.S. trilateral coordination and cooperation on maritime security capacity building in Southeast Asia.

The Ministers reiterated their opposition to any unilateral or coercive actions that could alter the status quo or increase tensions in the East China Sea. They also expressed their intention to remain in close contact on the situation in the area.

The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship with China through dialogue, cooperation, and engagement.

The Ministers reiterated condemnation in the strongest terms of North Korea’s nuclear tests, multiple ballistic missile launches and proliferation activities. They strongly urged North Korea to cease its destabilising and provocative actions immediately and to fully comply with its international obligations and commitments, including those under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Australia offered to host the next meeting of Japan-Australia 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations.

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