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Australia, Japan sign treaty to deepen military co-operation

Australia and Japan signed a treaty on 6 January to expand co-operation between the two countries' armed forces amid growing concerns about Chinese assertiveness in regional seas.

The Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) – signed during a virtual summit between the countries' prime ministers, Scott Morrison and Fumio Kishida – will enable the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the Japan Self-Defence Forces (JSDF) to train and operate in each other's territories.

Joint activities such as exercises, air-to-air refuelling, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and patrols are expected to be facilitated through the treaty.

Morrison described the RAA as a “landmark treaty” that will “underpin greater and more complex engagement, interoperability, and co-operation” between the ADF and the JSDF.

“What it practically means is that Australia's defence forces and Japanese forces can act and operate together seamlessly. We can be in each other's countries, we can be training in each other's countries, we can be on each other's platforms. We can be completely interoperable between what we can do and how we deploy together,” he added.

Morrison also said that the treaty marks a “new chapter” in co-operation between Japan and Australia to deal with a “new and even more challenging environment, particularly within the Indo-Pacific”.

The RAA had been under discussion for seven years but was agreed in principle by the two governments in November 2020.

The treaty supports a bilateral framework agreement announced in June 2021. Under this accord, the JSDF has agreed to protect ADF assets upon request by Canberra. In 2017 the two countries also signed an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement to facilitate closer bilateral defence logistics support and co-operation.

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