Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston and the Japanese Minister of Defense His Excellency Mr Itsunori Onodera met today in Perth for their first official meeting to discuss ways in which the defence relationship between the two nations could deepen.
While in Western Australia, Minister Onodera also visited HMAS Stirling and RAAF Base Pearce to see first hand the operations in support of the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370.
Japan contributed two Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft to the search, as well as a Coast Guard Gulfstream Jet and support personnel to the multinational search effort.
“We are very grateful to Japan for the contribution of these air assets and support personnel to the search and Minister Onodera’s visit has allowed me to thank him personally,” Senator Johnston said.
“Working alongside Japan during the search had demonstrated the ability of the two defence forces to operate together, and provided an opportunity to explore more ways in which we might cooperate.”
Senator Johnston said he expected the Defence and Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, scheduled for June, to provide an opportunity for further discussions.
“Based on my discussions with Minister Onodera today, I am confident that we are on track to developing some tangible means by which Australia and Japan can further deepen practical defence cooperation,” he said.
Senator Johnston said it was likely Australia and Japan would oversee research on marine hydrodynamics as an initial area of science and technology cooperation, in addition to negotiating a framework agreement on defence science, technology and equipment.
Today’s meeting follows Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit to Japan earlier this month during which he and Japanese Prime Minister Mr Shinzo Abe announced Australia and Japan would enhance practical defence cooperation.
Mark Dodd (Minister Johnston’s Office) 0477 389 560
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office) 0477 389 554
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999