Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to visit Japan

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit Japan today, becoming the first foreign leader to meet with new Japanese Prime

Screen Shot 2020 11 16 at 11 05 44 AM

Photo: MICK TSIKAS/EPA

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit Japan today, becoming the first foreign leader to meet with new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Although Morrison and Suga are likely to exchange views on a number of topics, ranging from economic cooperation to managing the COVID-19 pandemic, expect discussions to focus on security.

Canberra and Tokyo have sought to reinforce their defence partnership amid increasing Chinese bellicosity in the Indo-Pacific. During a visit to Tokyo in October, Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds reached a landmark agreement with her Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi, that will allow the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to protect Australian military assets. Alongside bilateral initiatives, Canberra and Tokyo have also moved to strengthen the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue—aimed at containing Chinese maritime assertiveness—which also counts India and the US as members.

Expect Morrison’s visit to deepen Australian-Japanese security cooperation. Suga and Morrison will likely sign the Reciprocal Access Agreement, significantly enhancing interoperability between the SDF and the Australian military. In the medium-term, expect Australian defence firms to feature in Japan’s 2024 $243 billion military modernisation program, especially in the realm of cyber-defence, while the breadth of recent Japanese-Australian defence cooperation signals a long-term mutual commitment.

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