“Special relationship” between Australia and Japan begins

July 8th 2014

July 24, 2014

Q: WHAT effect will the conclusion of the EPA between Australia and Japan have on the two nations economic interdependence and on the progress of Abenomics, or economic reform, within Japan itself, and does this relationship constitute a special partnership between Japan and Australia?

A: In 1957, which is now 57 years ago, my grandfather and then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, welcomed Prime Minister Menzies as the first Australian Prime Minister to visit Japan after World War II and drove the conclusion of the Japan-Australia Agreement on Commerce. The signing of the Agreement resulted in a significant expansion of the economic relationship between Japan and Australia, and has served as the cornerstone of the strong partnership that has since been developed.

From that time up to the present, the promotion of free trade has been a pillar of Japan’s external trade policy. To achieve robust economic growth, Japan now needs to contribute even more to the enhancement of the free-trade system and to harness foreign economic vitality to assist in further stimulating our own economy.

The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is a very significant agreement for Japan, in the sense that Australia is the largest trading partner Japan has ever concluded such an agreement with. But even beyond the economic significance of the Agreement, given the shared universal values and strategic interests of Japan and Australia, I have every confidence that the EPA will contribute to further enhancing the overall relations of our countries. I also anticipate that the EPA will help support efforts—such as those being made through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—to promote free trade, investment and the development of new rules and standards for the Asia-Pacific region.

The signing of the EPA symbolises the advancement of the “strategic partnership” of Japan and Australia towards a new special relationship. Just as my grandfather achieved, it is my hope that the Japan-Australia EPA will serve as the foundation for a new era in the relations of our countries.

Q: Does the enhanced security cooperation between Japan and Australia contribute to regional peace and stability and if so in what way, and could Japanese cooperation in this field include the export of major defence technology such as submarine propulsion systems to Australia, are we now strategic partners, and do the actions of China in the East China Sea and the South China Sea contribute to destabilising the region and making regional nations worried about China’s ultimate intentions?

(Japan-Australia Security and Defence Cooperation)

A: Japan and Australia share the universal values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and fundamental human rights. We also have a strategic interest in ensuring the peace, stability and prosperity of both the region and the international community.

Japan and Australia have enjoyed the relationship of “strategic partners” through deepening concrete defence cooperation. We worked closely together to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the Philippines last year in response to Typhoon Haiyan, and again during the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight earlier this year. We have also cooperated on the ground in international contribution activities including peacekeeping operations, and have promoted the peace and stability of the region through joint exercises and exchanges between our respective defence authorities.

Moving ahead, by measures such as concluding an Agreement on the Transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology, I will seek to elevate the “strategic partnership” further and establish a new special relationship.

When the Agreement on the Transfer of Defence Equipment and Technology comes into force, it will create new opportunities for joint development of defence equipment and technology, which involves their transfer between the two countries, including opportunities for the transfer and joint development of defence equipment and technology. Japan and Australia already have an agreement on fundamental scientific and technological research in the area of hydrodynamics. Technology derived from this field of research can be applied to a wide range of vessels, including submarines.

(Relations with China)

A: China is a major country which, together with Japan and Australia, has to play a prominent role in ensuring the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

It is my strong expectation that China will abide by international norms and play a constructive and cooperative role in dealing with regional issues.

Japan and China are inextricably linked to each other. It is not uncommon for various unresolved issues to exist between neighbouring countries. In accordance with the principle of a “mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests,” I would like to develop relations with China in a way that keeps a broad perspective. My door is always open for dialogue. I sincerely hope that China takes the same approach.

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