Japan and Australia to conclude new security declaration accounting for China’s expansion

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shakes hands with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese before their summit in Tokyo on Sept. 27.

The governments of Japan and Australia have begun negotiating to conclude a new Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation at a summit to be held in Australia later this month, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned from government officials. The aim is to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region with China’s growing hegemonic power in mind, and to take security cooperation with Australia, which Japan regards as a quasi-ally, to an even higher level.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is scheduled to visit Perth in Western Australia from Friday to Sunday. The new joint declaration is expected to include security and defense cooperation to realize a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” and is being considered for signature by Kishida and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The current Japan-Australia joint declaration on security cooperation was signed in March 2007 by then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and then Australian Prime Minister John Howard. The declaration includes provisions on counterterrorism, strengthening cooperation between Japan, the U.S. and Australia, and cooperation over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missiles, but there is no mention of China. The Australian and Japanese governments decided to reaffirm the need to strengthen cooperation against China, which has become a common threat to both countries as it has increased its maritime expansion in the East and South China Seas and in the Pacific Ocean.

In addition, the leaders are expected to agree on cooperation in securing stable supplies for Japan of Australian liquefied natural gas, rare earths and other resources. Kishida’s visit to Australia is also meant as a return visit for Albanese’s two visits to Japan, one immediately after his inauguration in May and the other for Abe’s state funeral in September. Kishida hopes to use the visit as an opportunity to strengthen his relationship of trust with Albanese.