Japan and Australia to expand defence ties

Japan and Australia to expand defence ties

Tokyo: Japan and Australia's defence ministers on Wednesday vowed to step up their ties to support democratic values in the Indo-Pacific region and agreed to work more closely with Southeast Asia and the Pacific island nations where China is seeking to expand its influence.

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles and his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi, said that region-wide cooperation is necessary to maintain and strengthen the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, where there is growing fear that Russia's invasion of Ukraine may embolden China to increase its assertiveness.

The ministers' talks came just three days after they met in Singapore on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum.

It is clear that our region faces the most complex set of strategic circumstances we have had since the end of World War II and what the region does matters, Marles told a joint news conference in Tokyo after holding talks with Kishi.

Only by working together can we uphold the rules-based international order, contribute to an effective balance of military power and ensure our region remains stable, peaceful and prosperous, Marles added.

Kishi said the two ministers shared their concerns about the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

He said they remain strongly opposed to any unilateral change of status quo in the East and South China seas and reaffirmed their commitment to a mutual vision of a free and open international order of the seas. It is important to strengthen our cooperation with our regional partners, especially with ASEAN and the Pacific islands, to maintain and reinforce the free and open Indo-Pacific, he said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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