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Australia-Japan defence agreement comes into force

RAAF F/A-18A Hornets from No 77 Squadron fly in formation with JASDF fighter aircraft, including the F-15J and F-2A, during Exercise ‘Bushido Guardian 2019' conducted out of Chitose Air Base in Japan. (Department of Defence, Commonwealth of Australia)

A landmark agreement between Canberra and Tokyo that allows the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Japan Self-Defence Forces (JSDF) to train and operate on each other's territories came into force on 13 August.

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said the Australia-Japan Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) provides a legal framework for greater defence co-operation between the two militaries. The RAA is the first visiting forces pact that Japan has signed with any country outside the United States.

The DoD said the agreement will facilitate much deeper ADF-JSDF engagement in training and exercises. “The RAA will streamline more effective force co-operation and enable each country to increase the sophistication and regularity of training, exercises, and other co-operative activities,” it added.

By way of example, the DoD said Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft will deploy to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Tindal in Australia's Northern Territory for the first time at the end of August.

It added that RAAF F-35s will be deployed to Japan for the first time in early September when they will take part in Exercise ‘Bushido Guardian 2023', a joint air combat training event between the two countries.

In addition, the Australian Army is scheduled to participate in Exercise ‘Yama Sakura' as a full participant for the first time, with more than 150 personnel travelling to Japan in December. ‘Yama Sakura' is an annual bilateral command post exercise involving the US military and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).

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