Tokyo, June 15 (EFE).- Japan and Australia Wednesday vowed to strengthen their defense ties to boost regional peace and order amid tensions sparked by growing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific regions.
Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles and his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi, told reporters in Tokyo that the two strategic partners would increase interoperability between their defense forces.
“We agreed to deepen our practical defense engagement as we prepare to implement the reciprocal access agreement,” Marles said.
He said Japan and Australia would “step up the sophistication” of their joint exercises and activities.
The two ministers pledged to broaden region-wide cooperation to maintain and strengthen the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific as China seeks to expand its economic and military interests.
Marles said it was evident that the region was facing the most complex strategic conditions since World War II.
His visit to Japan is his first since becoming Australia’s defense chief earlier this month after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese assumed the office late last month.
Marles doubles as deputy prime minister.
In January, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and then Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison signed a bilateral reciprocal access agreement to facilitate the deployment of troops in each other’s countries for joint drills and relief operations.
Minister Kishi said Japan and Australia had a great responsibility for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.t
The Japanese defense minister said the two countries now had a big responsibility for the peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
He said the two sides agreed to oppose any attempt to unilaterally change the “status quo” in the East and South China seas, in a veiled reference to China’s growing assertiveness.
During their meeting, both ministers addressed other issues of common interest like the Russian-Ukrainian war, the rise in inflation, and the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. EFE