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Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Page: 4994

Mr STEPHEN SMITH (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (3:53 PM) —Mr Speaker, on indulgence: I draw the attention of members to developments in Japan today. Prime Minster Hatoyama has announced his intention to stand down as Prime Minister. This follows the departure from his ruling coalition of the Social Democratic Party over the Futenma base issue.

I make these very brief remarks to the House because Prime Minister Hatoyama has been a good friend of Australia both during his period as Prime Minister, where we have seen the strategic and security aspects of our partnership deepen, and before becoming Prime Minister. He would be known to members of the House, including your good self, Mr Speaker. I recently had the good fortune to meet, together with Defence Minister Faulkner, with the Prime Minister in Tokyo following the two plus two defence and foreign affairs meeting between Australia and Japan. He again referred to the importance of the Australia-Japan relationship and underlined its comprehensive nature, and we wish him well for the future. I am advised that the Democratic Party of Japan, Prime Minister Hatoyama’s party, will elect a new prime minister and leader in the next few days. We very much look forward to working closely with the new prime minister.

In conclusion, the relationship—the comprehensive economic, strategic and security partnership—that Australia has with Japan is one of those relationships in which, irrespective of which political party is governing in Canberra and which political party is governing in Tokyo, the strength and importance of the relationship continues.