Visiting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe agreed Thursday in Tokyo to bolster cooperation to ensure a free, open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region built on a rule-based order, effectively endorsing Japans strategy to keep Chinas growing military power in check in the region.
In a joint statement released the same day, the two leaders also agreed to promote deeper and broader defense cooperation this year, including exercises, operations, capacity building and mutual visits by the military forces of the two countries.
Abe has advocated a policy of pursuing a free and open Indo-Pacific region, which calls for freedom of maritime navigation and opposes any unilateral action to change the status-quo. It is widely seen as designed to urge China to rein in its growing assertiveness at sea.
Our relationship is about shared values. We are seeking to achieve the same objective as youve described as a free and open Indo-Pacific, Turnbull told reporters soon after the summit.
The two leaders reaffirmed their determination to urge member countries to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement so that it will quickly go into effect, according to the statement.
Japan and Australia have also been negotiating to conclude a new military pact that would specify the legal status of military personnel temporarily staying in each others countries for drills, and aims to simplify procedures needed for the transport of military equipment.
In the joint statement, the leaders said they underscored the importanceof such a pact and directed all relevant ministers to conclude the negotiations as early as (is) feasible.
Although Japan has a S...