Australia and Japan will sign a defense and security treaty today.
The extraordinary move looks to greatly advance Australian-Japanese military interoperability and cooperation towards promoting stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Likewise, this displays the swiftly deepening ties between all Quad allies—Australia, India, Japan and the US—in their effort to rebuff China’s belligerence in the South China Sea (SCS). China has expressed its displeasure in the treaty, implying that the bilateral treaty is meant to harm its interests.
Taken in a larger context, Japan’s greater participation in the Quad represents a systemic shift in the mission of the nation’s Self-Defense Forces from defense of Japan to “collective defense.” In this new collective defense paradigm, Japan has equated the defense of its allies and international norms as self-defense which its military can actively participate in.
Expect China to excoriate the Australian-Japanese treaty. In the short-term this may lead to boycotting or restricting Japanese exports, flexing China’s economic muscles as a warning to Tokyo regarding its alliances. However, because all Quad allies understand that China gaining control of the SCS or Taiwan represents an existential threat to their trade and overall economic destiny, expect the Quad to continue deepening their ties.
Bilal is the Director of Training and Development. He holds a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University where he extensively researched the US war in Afghanistan. Previously, Bilal has worked independently throughout mainland China as a teacher and as a domestic political communications fellow with Murmuration.