Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday expressed eagerness to strengthen his country’s defense ties with Australia, apparently keeping China’s maritime expansion in mind.
“We hope to realize deeper defense cooperation” with Australia, he said at a meeting with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defense Minister Marise Payne at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Bishop responded by saying that Japan and Australia are close friends in the Pacific that share views on various global challenges.
The meeting was held ahead of a “two-plus-two” session between the Australian ministers and their Japanese counterparts — Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Tomomi Inada — in Tokyo later in the day.
The two-plus-two session has been arranged in a very timely manner, given the current unstable regional security situation, Bishop said, implicitly referring to North Korea.
Meanwhile, Inada and Payne agreed Wednesday the Air Self-Defense Force and the Australian Air Force will carry out their first joint exercise using fighter jets in Japan next year.
Inada and Payne discussed ways to strengthen defense cooperation between Japan and Australia, apparently bearing in mind North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs and China’s increasing maritime activities.