Japan, Australia discuss cooperation over China

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, right, and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi attend a video conference with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton in Tokyo during their 2-plus-2 meeting on Wednesday.

Japan and Australia held a virtual 2-plus-2 meeting on Wednesday during which they discussed how best to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, with China’s increasingly hegemonic activities in mind.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi attended the meeting with their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton.

The ministers shared their concerns over China’s attempts to use its military might to unilaterally change the status quo in the East and South China seas.

They also agreed that their countries would accelerate talks for signing a bilateral reciprocal access agreement that would include provisions for joint exercises between the Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison reached a broad agreement on such an accord during a summit meeting in November last year. The two countries are now in the final stage of discussions.

Regarding economic security, the ministers confirmed that their countries would cooperate in building supply chains for critical minerals and other resources without relying on specific countries such as China.

This is the ninth 2-plus-2 between Japan and Australia and the first since a meeting in Sydney in October 2018.

Suga is scheduled to hold talks with Morrison on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit meeting that will kick off on Friday in England.

Australia is not a G7 member but Morrison was invited to the summit by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.