Tokyo, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- Japan and Australia on Tuesday announced that they have broadly agreed on a legal framework for a bilateral military pact that will allow troops from the two countries to train together and conduct war drills on each other’s territory.
The two countries reached the agreement during a meeting between Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, who is in Tokyo for a two-day trip to Japan.
The Japanese prime minister told reporters that he and Suga pledged to “further strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas such as security, defense and the economy,” according to public broadcaster NHK.
Morrison said the two countries have taken “a great step” in reaching a basic agreement that would be a milestone of the ties between the two countries.
He did not offer more details.
The Reciprocal Access Agreement needs to be ratified by parliament.
If finalized, it would be the first pact by Japan to allow foreign military presence on its soil after a similar1960 accord with the United States.
The Japan-US military pact allows America to have warships, fighter jets, and thousands of troops in and around the Asian country.
Japan and Australia have been negotiating the defense agreement since 2014 to strengthen their security cooperation amid the aggressive Chinese role in the Indo-Pacific region.
The two prime ministers, in their meeting, also discussed economic issues of common interest.
Morrison’s trip came two days after Japan and Australia signed a regional trade deal that covers nearly a third of the global economy and creates the largest free-trade zone in Asia of about a third of the worldwide population.
Suga conveyed to Morrison his “hope for a stronger bilateral partnership to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific,” NHK said.
He said Japan and Australia were special partners that share basic values and strategic interests.
The meeting was Suga’s first with a visiting foreign leader since he took over as the Japanese prime minister in September.
Japan is the first foreign country Morrison visited in 2020. He had scheduled his Japan visit for January this year.
However, the trip was first postponed due to the severity of the forest fires affecting the oceanic country and later following the coronavirus pandemic that paralyzed global diplomacy and forced leaders across the world to hold video conferences instead of face-to-face meetings. EFE-EPA