Today I completed my visit to Japan where I held bilateral talks with my counterpart, Defence Minister Morimoto.
This was my first visit to Japan as Minister for Defence and my seventh visit as an Australian Government Minister.
Mr Morimoto and I discussed our shared strategic interests in the region and steps to advance our practical defence cooperation as agreed at the recent 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held in Sydney.
We discussed the potential for Australia-Japan science and technology cooperation in the field of defence, following on from Japan’s 2011 Guidelines for Overseas Transfer of Defense Equipment.
We agreed to discussions on a framework under which technology cooperation could be progressed.
Mr Morimoto and I also discussed Australia and Japan’s cooperation on defence capacity building projects in the region, which includes plans for exchanges of defence officials to better coordinate our defence cooperation programs in South East Asia and the Pacific.
During my visit, I also met with Acting Prime Minister Okada and Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Edano.
I also met with a range of senior members of the Japanese Parliament, including former Defence Ministers Ishiba and Kitazawa and former Foreign Ministers Maehara and Nakasone.
I delivered a speech at Japan's National Institute of Defense Studies (NIDS) on the Australia-Japan bilateral defence relationship.
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the modern bilateral defence relationship with the visit of four Japanese Maritime Self Defense ships to Sydney in 1962.
Australia and Japan’s bilateral defence and security partnership has grown in strength in recent years.
In May 2010 Australia and Japan took a significant step toward further improving bilateral security cooperation by signing an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) to enable logistics support between Australian and Japanese forces cooperating in international operations, such as peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
In March 2011, Australia’s support to Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami was an important reaffirmation of the comprehensive Australia-Japan strategic, security and economic partnership and also the growing strength and capability of our trilateral cooperation with the United States.
In an historic first, at one stage during the relief operation Australia had three C-17 aircraft in Japan transporting Japanese Self Defence Force personnel and equipment to the disaster zone to begin the relief effort.
Australian C-17 aircraft worked closely with the United States Forces Japan Air Operations Command throughout the relief mission. This was also a historic first and a very practical demonstration of Australia-Japan-United States trilateral strategic cooperation and the benefit this can provide to the region in responding to an emergency situation of this size.
In May 2012, Australia and Japan signed an Agreement on the Security of Information to provide a framework to shared classified information. This will be crucial for the further expansion of defence and security cooperation.
Mr Smith's Office: Ellen Shields (02) 6277 7800 or 0400 347 473
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