JULIE BISHOP I want to thank our Japanese hosts, Ministers Kishida and Inada, for welcoming us to Tokyo at this time for our seventh 2+2 meeting, that is the Foreign and Defence Ministers Meeting between Australia and Japan. This an opportune and timely moment for us to come together to discuss regional and global threats, challenges and opportunities.
Ours is a special strategic partnership and this is an important designation for we are both advanced economies in the Indo-Pacific Region, we are both allies of the United States, and importantly we share common political values, common strategic interests and a remarkably similar view of our region and the world.
We have discussed already specific issues, including the escalating threat posed by North Korea and while we support the United States’ approach that all options be on the table with regard to curbing North Korea’s illegal and belligerent behaviour, we share a common view that we want to ensure stability and security on the Korean peninsula by peaceful means.
We have discussed ways that Australia and Japan can continue to cooperate to bring peace, stability and security to our region, and Japan’s free and open Indo-Pacific strategy aligns with Australia’s view of the significance of the Indo-Pacific.
We are of a common view that we must continue to advocate and defend the international rule-based order and encourage all nations to resolve differences peacefully and in accordance with international law.
We have also discussed in our respective bilateral meetings, but also as part of our 2+2, the need for us to continue to cooperate in economic matters, and to continue to advocate for free and open trade. And to encourage other nations to play by the rules and norms that have enabled our part of the world to develop, to prosper, into one one of the most dynamic economic regions in the world.
I am looking forward to continuing our discussion over our working dinner this evening where we will discuss specific ways that Australia and Japan can continue to work together to be forces for good in our part of the world, but also to discuss some of the other challenges we face in relation to nuclear non-proliferation, the disturbing use of chemical weapons, the evolving nature of terrorism and our responses in terms of counter-terrorism and also our focus on specific regional issues including our deep engagement in the Pacific.
MARISE PAYNE Good evening ladies and gentlemen and thank you very much to my ministerial colleagues from Japan, Minister Kishida and Minister Inada. It is always a great pleasure to be in Tokyo and a great pleasure to be hosted by such charming and hospitable colleagues.
This is of course our seventh 2+2 ministerial meeting between Australia and Japan and my second. It is important that Japan and Australia, as like-minded partners, have the opportunity to meet regularly at the ministerial level to discuss regional peace and security issues as well as opportunities to further strengthen our security and defence cooperation as my colleagues have said, both bilaterally and trilaterally with the United States. In the current very rapidly evolving strategic environment this is indeed a very timely meeting.
Australia’s defence relationship with Japan is framed within the 2016 Defence White Paper which emphasised the importance of Japan as a defence partner and the vital contribution Japan makes to the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific and particularly the global rules-based order.
We are indeed strongly committed to a broad, deep and growing special strategic partnership with Japan. It is important to note that 2017 marks the tenth year of the joint declaration on security cooperation between our nations, signed in 2007 between then Prime Minister Howard and Prime Minister Abe. Acknowledging that tenth anniversary, this is an excellent opportunity to take stock of the relationship and its deep and very broad practical cooperation.
As my colleagues have said during the first half our 2+2 meeting today, we have already exchanged views on a range of mutual regional security concerns and indeed we will discuss those further over our working dinner meeting tonight.
We have also agreed on a suite of new and practical initiatives to deepen that bilateral defence engagement and cooperation between the Australian Defence Force and the Japanese Self Defence Force. I might note that this builds on initiatives over the past three 2+2 meetings of 44 different initiatives that we have taken since 2014.
The initiatives to date include measures to further enhance our information sharing. That is underpinned by the TISA, the Technical Information Sharing Agreement, which was signed by our two countries in October last year, by greater defence exercises, and importantly by regional capacity building. It is an area In which our work is particularly complementary of each other and very effective.
We also affirmed importantly our ongoing agreement to negotiate an agreement that would reciprocally improve administrative, policy and legal procedures to facilitate joint military operations and exercises. So this has been an extremely positive engagement. I had a very positive bilateral meeting with Minister Inada last night and I’m very keen to continue the discussion of the depth and breadth of our defence relationship.
JOURNALIST I understand you discussed in your meetings this afternoon the possibility of reviving the quadrilateral security dialogue. I wonder why Japan is so keen to do this and how do you think this might be perceived in China. And secondly, can you tell us what specific measures you would like to see China undertake to bring about North Korea’s abandoning its nuclear weapons program?
JULIE BISHOP Australia is a participant in the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue together with the United States. And we have discussed enhancing that strategic dialogue with the new Trump Administration and Minister Kishida have both taken part in Strategic Dialogue meetings with the United States in the years past.
We are at an early stage of an trilateral strategic dialogue between Australia, Japan and India. Prime Minister Turnbull had a very successful visit to India recently and we are, as we acknowledged, strong, robust economies and the Indo-Pacific. We are G20 economies. We have common political systems, indeed I would suggest that Australia, Japan and India have the strongest, most dynamic democracies in our part of the world. It is inevitable that we would seek to cooperate and discuss common issues and interests given our common values and outlook.
In relation to North Korea, we have in our bilateral discussions already discussed our support for the United States’ intervention to send a very strong signal to North Korea that its illegal and egregious illegal and belligerent behaviour will not be tolerated. North Korea is already in breach of numerous United Nations Security Council resolution yet it continues to disregard them and carry out nuclear and ballistic missile testing in defiance of those resolutions and international law.
‘All options on the table’ includes dialogue and we certainly encourage the relevant parties to consider ways to commence engagement with North Korea and we also welcome new and creative ideas from the United States and also other concerned nations as to how to send a message to North Korea that it is risking regional and global security by its behaviour. And we believe that more can and should be done by China because China has a unique relationship with North Korea and is the source of virtually all of North Korea’s foreign direct investment, trade, expertise and the like. So we will continue to discuss with Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea ways to engage with North Korea such that it will change its behaviour. Now whether that’s done through diplomacy or economic sanctions will be the subject of ongoing discussion. There is much more that China can do and we will certainly China to that end.
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