Japan-Australia Summit Meeting
On December 18, commencing at 6:15 p.m. for approximately 55 minutes, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, held a summit meeting with the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, who was making a working visit to Japan, followed by a small-group meeting with Prime Minister Turnbull for approximately 15 minutes, at the State Guest House, Akasaka Palace. The Prime Ministers confirmed the solid strategic partnership between Japan and Australia, and issued a joint statement entitled “Next steps of the Special Strategic Partnership: Asia, Pacific and Beyond.” Following this, Prime Minister Abe hosted a dinner commencing at 8:00 p.m. for approximately one hour and 15 minutes. The overview is as follows.
1. Opening remarks
Prime Minister Abe welcomed Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to Japan, and expressed gratitude for the emphasis Prime Minister Turnbull is placing on Japan by fulfilling the commitment to the annual visit despite his busy schedule. Prime Minister Abe further stated that they have met and held frank exchanges of views five times in one month, beginning with the G20, and he is convinced that together they will be able to further advance the special relationship between Japan and Australia.
In response, Prime Minister Turnbull expressed his thanks for the warm welcome extended by the Japanese side, including experiencing the Japanese tea ceremony (chado) at Urasenke Tea House. Prime Minister Turnbull explained that Japan and Australia both recognize the importance of maintaining peace and security as the foundation for the prosperity of all countries in the region, and of maintaining international order based on rules, and that they similarly attach importance to innovation for the economic development of both countries and as a way of addressing climate change. Prime Minister Turnbull also explained that he hopes to work hand-in-hand with Prime Minister Abe to further strengthen and deepen the two countries’ longstanding friendly relationship.
2. Bilateral relations
(1) The economic field and promotion of exchanges
The Prime Ministers confirmed to strengthen economic ties through the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and shared the view that the two countries will also deepen cooperation in the field of innovation. As one part of this, Prime Minister Abe stated that the Japanese side will explore concrete measures relating to (ⅰ) innovation-led diversification of industrial structures; and (ⅱ) region-led promotion of relationships at the Conference for Promotion of Exchanges between Japan and Australia. Prime Minister Turnbull welcomed Japan’s efforts and looked forward to progress in cooperation.
(2) Security and defense fields
Prime Minister Abe reaffirmed the recognition that Japan-Australia cooperation is a cornerstone of the Asia-Pacific region, and explained that he intends to accelerate the range of cooperation currently being pursued. In response, Prime Minister Turnbull also stated that he hopes to strengthen Japan-Australia cooperation based on common values and interests, for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific. The Prime Ministers also exchanged views on Japan’s cooperation with Australia’s Future Submarine programme.
3. Regional and international affairs
The Prime Ministers exchanged views on the situations in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, China, and North Korea, and they also welcomed stronger cooperation between Japan, Australia, and the United States, as well as Japan, Australia, and India. In addition, they recognized the importance of cooperating in the Pacific, and cooperating in the fields of counterterrorism and cybersecurity.
Prime Minister Turnbull conveyed to Prime Minister Abe Australia’s deep disappointment with Japan’s decision to conduct whaling in the Southern Ocean this season. Prime Minister Abe explained Japan’s position on the legal and scientific grounds for its NEWREP-A programme. The Prime Ministers reiterated that Japan and Australia do not condone any actions which are a risk to human life and property at sea.