Melbourne: Japan and Australia on 13 March signed a landmark security agreement under which the pacific nations will work closely in areas of security, counter terrorism and peacekeeping, but both denied the pact was to counter Tokyo’s influential neighbour, China.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who signed the deal with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe said the agreement was a mark of the two countries’ trust and cooperation.
Howard also stressed that the deal was not directed at China, the region’s biggest military power.
The Chinese government has, however, raised some concern over the pact, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang saying China would have liked to see countries like Australia and Japan do more to “further mutual trust and stabilise the region”.
The agreement lists nine areas in which Japan and Australia will work closely together, including border security, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping and law enforcement.
The two countries will also strengthen defence cooperation, with personnel exchanges and training in areas such as humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping.
The agreement, which is the first such deal for Japan besides the one it has with the US, also calls for action plans to be developed, and annual meetings between trade and defence ministers of both nations.