US, Australia, India, Japan discuss China’s growing power.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison (LON: MRW) could agree to a historic defense pact on Tuesday that will closely align two key US allies in Asia to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
Morrison arrives in Japan on Tuesday, where security experts expect him to close a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) with Suga to establish a legal framework for joint military training and maneuvers between troops from both countries.
“There will be something to announce after the meeting,” a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said in a meeting with the media, without giving further details.
The pact, which has taken six years to negotiate and has to be ratified by parliaments, would be the first such agreement for Japan since it signed a status treaty in 1960 that allowed the United States to deploy warships, aircraft troops and thousands of troops in and around its territory as part of a military alliance that Washington considers the basis of regional security.
In a call with Suga on Thursday, President-elect Joe Biden said his incoming administration was committed to maintaining that close partnership.
Tokyo and Canberra seek to strengthen ties amid concerns about Chinese activity in the region, including militarization in the South China Sea, maneuvers around disputed islands in the East China Sea and the growing dominance of Beijing. over Pacific island nations.
“It is helpful for other nations to take a more active role in military activities and operations in the region, especially since the Americans are overburdened,” said Grant Newsham, a researcher at the Japan Strategic Studies Forum.
To counter China, Suga visited Vietnam and Indonesia last month to strengthen ties with major allies in Southeast Asia. The visit came after a meeting in Tokyo of the foreign ministers of the “Quad”, an informal group from Japan, Australia, the United States and India.
China, which insists its intentions in the Asia-Pacific region are peaceful, described the “Quad” as a “mini-NATO” created to contain it.
(Information from Tim Kelly; edited by Lincoln Feast, translated by Michael Susin at the Gdansk newsroom)