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Asia Minute: Japan and Australia mark closer security ties

Australia Japan prime minister Fumio Kishida
Stefan Gosatti/AP
Pool Getty
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hold koalas during a visit to Kings Park in Perth, Australia, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022. Kishida is on a visit to bolster military and energy cooperation between Australia and Japan amid their shared concerns about China. (Stefan Gosatti/Pool Photo via AP)

Two of the United States' closest allies in the Asia-Pacific are deepening their relations with each other. It's a step that's being welcomed in Washington, but likely not in Beijing.

Japan and Australia have had close relations for many years, but a weekend meeting of the leaders of the two countries marks a new chapter.

The governments agreed to strengthen their cooperation on security matters.

Military forces from the two countries will train together — and Japan and Australia will also increase their sharing of intelligence.

In the world of diplomacy, this new document stops short of a formal security alliance, but it allows for consultations in the event of “contingencies” — a somewhat bureaucratic way of referring to potential actions such as a military strike against Taiwan.

China was not mentioned by name in the agreement, nor in the accompanying news conference.

But Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the declaration “sends a strong signal to the region on our strategic alignment.”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the declaration takes place in an “increasingly severe strategic environment.”

There's another aspect to the latest deal: access to natural resources — both for fossil fuels and clean energy.

Australia supplies about 40% of Japan's liquified natural gas — and it also exports rare earth minerals used in products from solar panels and wind turbines to electric vehicles.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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