日豪首脳会談 経済と安保で「特別な関係」に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan, Australia must build ‘special relationship’ on economy, security
日豪首脳会談 経済と安保で「特別な関係」に

Japan and Australia have an important role in promoting peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. We should build a comprehensive relationship of cooperation.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who took office in September, made his first visit to Japan and held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two leaders issued a joint statement that said Japan and Australia would cooperate in the economic and security fields and deepen the “special relationship” of the two countries that share strategic interests.

Abe emphasized that both leaders affirmed the “unshakable strategic relationship” between the two countries. “Both countries share the same values,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull, who is known to be acceptive of China, chose Japan for his first visit to East Asia as prime minister. We welcome Turnbull’s posture of attaching weight to bilateral ties with Japan, continuing the policy pursued by his predecessor, Tony Abbott — like Turnbull a member of the Liberal Party — who was close to Abe.

Both leaders agreed on expanding bilateral trade and investment, on the basis of the bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement, which entered into force in January.

Abe and Turnbull also confirmed the importance of technological innovation and agreed on bilateral cooperation in such fields as regenerative medicine.

Japan and Australia have a mutually complementary relationship, with Japan importing mainly natural resources and foods from Australia, and exporting automobiles and other products to the country. It is important to promote economic cooperation between the two countries, using the EPA as a tailwind.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, with 12 countries including Japan and Australia participating, reached a broad agreement in October. Japan and Australia should further cooperate in putting the accord into force at an early stage.

Freedom of navigation

With regard to the South China Sea, the joint statement called on “all claimants to halt large-scale land reclamation or construction, and to refrain from using any land features for military purposes.” Needless to say, both have China in mind, as it is building artificial islands and promoting the establishment of military bases there.

The U.S. Navy carried out patrols within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands in October, while an Australian military surveillance plane recently flew near the artificial islands. It is important to take all possible steps to ensure freedom of navigation and flight under international law.

Ensuring the safety of sea lanes will serve as a basis for free economic activities. By cooperating closely with other countries, including the United States, Japan and Australia must urge China to abide by international rules.

During their talks, Abe and Turnbull agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in defense on the basis of the security-related legislation. Japan and Australia intend to expedite concluding a “visiting forces agreement,” which would facilitate joint exercises between the Self-Defense Forces and Australian forces.

Japan and Australia should pursue multitiered cooperation, with the United States — an ally of both Japan and Australia — joining in.

Turnbull expressed Australia’s “deep disappointment” with Japan’s resumption of its research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean. Abe explained the necessity of conducting whaling for research purposes on scientific grounds.

The assertions of the two leaders remain far apart on this issue. But it is necessary for this issue not to damage the overall bilateral relationship.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 21, 2015)

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