SOUTH CHINA SEA ROW

Japan, Australia agree to beef up security ties to counter China’s regional maritime push

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 August, 2016, 3:59pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 August, 2016, 3:59pm

The Japanese and Australian defence ministers agreed Thursday to strengthen security cooperation amid China’s growing maritime assertiveness and North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches, including one fired the previous day.

“I have been clearly instructed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to promote defence cooperation between Japan and Australia. I would like to deepen the relationship,” Defence Minister Tomomi Inada said at the outset of the talks with her Australian counterpart Marise Payne in Tokyo.

I have been clearly instructed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to promote defence cooperation between Japan and Australia
Defence Minister Tomomi Inada

Payne also noted the importance of the two countries’ cooperation for regional peace and safety amid growing security challenges.

On Wednesday morning, North Korea test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan. Japan said it was the first time this type of missile had reached the country’s air defence identification zone.

The two ministers agreed to strengthen defence cooperation through joint drills and oppose any unilateral actions that escalate tensions.

Japan has been concerned by China’s military buildup in the contested waters of the South China Sea and repeated intrusions by Chinese government vessels in Japanese waters around a group of islets in the East China Sea, controlled by Japan but claimed by China.

The ministers also affirmed a plan to hold “two-plus-two” talks involving the two countries’ defence and foreign ministers later this year in Tokyo.

Such security talks between Japan and Australia were previously held last November.

The defence ministerial talks were the first between the countries since Japan failed to win a multibillion dollar deal to build submarines for the Australian navy.