TOKYO (Reuters) – Australia wants “broad and deep” cooperation with Japan as the two U.S. allies face complex security circumstances in Asia as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation and COVID-19 disruption, its defence minister said on Wednesday.
“It is clear that our region faces the most complex set of strategic circumstances we have known since the end of the Second World War,” the minister, Richard Marles, told a media conference with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi, after talks in Tokyo.
The allies have been increasing defence cooperation as a counterbalance to China’s growing military power and influence in Asia.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is spurring a deepening of those ties as concern that what Russia calls its “special operation” could encourage China to use force against self-ruled Taiwan.
Marles said Australia and Japan would use a reciprocal access agreement signed in January to engage in deeper and more sophisticated cooperation that would strengthen their militaries’ interoperability.
The access pact provides a legal bases for Australian and Japanese forces visiting each other’s countries and establishes a framework for cooperation.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Robert Birsel)