Kyodo News International April 7, 2014 6:21am
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott agreed Monday to conduct joint research on submarine-related technology as part of efforts to bolster bilateral security ties under Japan’s new policy on defense equipment.
The agreement reached during a summit between the leaders in Tokyo came nearly a week after Japan relaxed its arms export ban by adopting new principles and guidelines for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Abe and Abbott picked marine hydrodynamics used for submarines as the first area of bilateral cooperation. The Japanese and Australian defense and foreign ministers will meet in Tokyo in June and work out details.
“We confirmed that we will expand practical cooperation to include joint exercises,” Abe told reporters after the summit. “Japan and Australia will work together toward the shared goals of regional and international peace and stability, as well as respect for freedom of air and sea navigation.”
Japan apparently sees security cooperation with Australia both within bilateral and multilateral frameworks as vital, amid China’s growing assertiveness and North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.
Tokyo and Canberra also vowed to strengthen trilateral cooperation with Washington.
Before the summit, Abbott attended a special meeting of the National Security Council, the first foreign leader to do so, and expressed hope for developing bilateral cooperation in the fields of defense and security.
Abe told Abbott that his participation in the meeting testified “to the strong bond of confidence between the two countries.”
Launched in December, the NSC is a forum for Abe and his Cabinet ministers to share information on a regular basis and speed up decision-making on diplomacy and defense.
Under Japan’s new principles on the transfer of defense equipment, the NSC has the authority to discuss and approve important deals that require caution.
Japan had imposed an outright arms embargo since the Cold War era but is now allowing exports of defense equipment and technology if they will contribute to international cooperation and its national security interests.
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