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Japan agrees to protect Australian Defence Force assets

Japan has reached a framework agreement with Australia under which the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) would protect Australian Defence Force (ADF) assets upon request by Canberra.

The deal, which is part of efforts to bolster their bilateral security co-operation in the Indo-Pacific region, was announced during a virtual ‘2+2' meeting held on 9 June between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries.

In a joint statement issued the same day, the ministers said they “underscore” the importance of ensuring the safety of JSDF and ADF assets and welcomed “the creation of a framework to protect ADF assets by the JSDF personnel under Article 95-2 of the JSDF Law,” which enables the JSDF to protect weapons and other equipment of foreign forces.

“The JSDF is ready to provide protection under this article upon request from the ADF, whenever the appropriate opportunity arises,” said the ministers, without providing further details.

The two sides also spoke of their intention to “increase the complexity and sophistication of bilateral exercises and operations” between the JSDF and the ADF, including through air-to-air refuelling, reaffirmed the importance of their respective alliances with the United States, and reiterated their “shared intention to deepen engagement in capacity building, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and personnel exchanges”.

In this context the ministers also emphasised their commitment to further enhancing the trilateral co-operation with Washington to support a “free, open, inclusive, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region”, and reiterated their “serious concerns about the situation in the East China Sea” as well as the “recent negative developments and serious incidents in the South China”.

The ministers also expressed their “strong opposition to coercive and destabilising behaviour in the region”, which they said “undermines the rules-based international order”.

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