Defense and Foreign Ministers from Japan and Australia met on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss their countries’ relations, agreeing to strengthen defense ties as tensions in the region continue to grow. The Japan Times reports:
Although Japan does not have a security treaty with Australia, it nonetheless characterizes the country as a “semi-ally,” with their bilateral relationship recently bolstered anew by their shared “strong opposition to any coercive or unilateral” attempt to alter the status quo in the East China Sea, as was stated in Abe’s summit meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in December 2015.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Inada and Payne also agreed that the two nations will conduct a joint military drill involving fighter jets in Japan next year, in what was touted as the latest initiative to further deepen their bilateral relationship.
This is yet another example of Japan wasting no time bolstering its defenses and positioning itself to become a regional security leader. Other recent examples include joint-exercises and high-level discussions with Australia, India, and South Korea, as well as fostering a partnership with the Philippines in an attempt to prevent Duterte from pivoting too much toward China.
Japan’s rise, and the reactions it provokes in capitals across the Pacific Rim is one of the key dynamics to watch as the Trump Administration gets its own footing in the region.