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Japan-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Meeting: joint statement to the media, Tokyo.



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The Hon Stephen Smith MP AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Media release

18 December 2008

Japan-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Meeting Joint Statement to the media, Tokyo

The Hon. Stephen Smith MP, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Australian Minister for Defence; together with

H. E. Mr Hirofumi Nakasone, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, and H. E. Mr Yasukazu Hamada, Japanese Minister for Defence

MINISTER NAKASONE:

It is a pleasure for me, together with Defence Minister Hamada, to welcome Foreign Minister Smith and Defence Minister Fitzgibbon of Australia to Japan and to hold this, the second Japan-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations, the so-called 2+2.

For Japan, this 2+2 with Australia is only the second one, following the one we have had with the United States, a clear indication of the importance of the bilateral security partnership. Preceding this 2+2 I had a meeting with Foreign Minister Smith and Defence Minister Hamada had a meeting with Defence Minister Fitzgibbon and we’ve had a very good exchange of views. In the 2+2 session we were having, we discussed in the main ways and means to step up security and defence cooperation between our countries and reaffirmed that we shall steadily implement the Action Plan on Security Cooperation agreed to by our Prime Ministers in September of last year, including those actions related to the Japan-Australia-US trilateral cooperation.

We agreed in particular that it will be important for our two countries to share confidential information in an appropriate manner in order to carry out security cooperation. And we shall be working on establishing the framework for this purpose.

Now, the Defence Minister I believe will speak to the content of the Defence Cooperation. Following this press event, we the four Ministers will discuss over dinner regional issues, or we were actually able to have a very useful exchange of views on the regional situation including the East Asian security situation, and I am convinced that today’s discussion will further strengthen our strategic partnership.

We shall continue our efforts to address international challenges in cooperation with

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Australia, which like Japan is in alliance with the United States. Following this, we shall continue with our exchange of views over dinner.

That is all I have to say, thank you.

MINISTER HAMADA:

Today, with Minister Fitzgibbon we had a Defence Ministers’ meeting, Japan/Australia, and particularly with regard to the Defence realm, we shared our understanding of the importance of the support activities in the Indian Ocean conducted with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Forces and also given that security issues are increasingly more complex and globalised, we revised the Memorandum on Defence Cooperation that we signed in 2003 at the Defence Ministers meeting at that time, in order to further develop Japan-Australia relationship by taking tangible or concrete cooperative actions to promote cooperation and international peace cooperation activities and the routine cooperation and coordination in training of vessels and ships as well as to promote strategic dialogue and to enhance trilateral and multilateral cooperation.

We confirmed agreement at this point to enhance these and going forward I would like to further ask the security and defence cooperation between Japan and Australia for the stability and peace of Asia-Pacific and the regions beyond.

Thank you.

MINISTER SMITH:

Thank you very much and can I thank the two Japanese Ministers for their kind invitation for us to come to Tokyo to engage in the 2+2 Ministerial meetings.

Australia and Japan have a long-standing, comprehensive, economic, strategic and security partnership. And whilst the economic aspect of our partnership is well understood, I think it’s the case that the strategic and security aspects of our partnership are under-appreciated. And the 2+2 meeting, the second that’s been held between Australia and Japan, is a very

important aspect of that strategic and security partnership.

In the course of our individual meetings, and also in the course of a meeting earlier today that Minister Fitzgibbon and I had with Prime Minister Aso, we have traversed the range of bilateral, regional and global issues. We’ll continue to do that over dinner.

One of the important matters that we’ve agreed upon is the importance not just of the 2+2 meetings but of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue that Australia and Japan have with our joint ally, the United States. When it comes to a 2+2, Australia does a 2+2 meeting with the

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United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. Japan does a 2+2 meeting with the United States and Australia. So the central importance of the United States is there for all to see. We’ve agreed that the continuation of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue is very important, just as we’ve agreed that the ongoing engagement of the United States in the Asia-Pacific is very important, not just in Australia’s interest, but also in Japan’s interest, and in the interest of our region.

In the course of our meetings we’ve of course discussed the global financial crisis and the importance in Australia’s eyes of the G20 as an international institution used to address that crisis. We’ve spoken about the potential adverse consequences to flow both to Australia

and Japan and our region as a result of that crisis. We’ve continued to agree to work closely together to meet that global financial crisis.

The relationship between Australia and Japan will be furthered by this meeting. One of the very important aspects that we’ve agreed upon is what Foreign Minister Nakasone has earlier referred to - an agreement to enhance the information sharing arrangements between Australia and Japan. We’ve agreed upon principles of information exchange and sharing, and also agreed to pursue the possibility of a legal agreement or a legal understanding to underpin those principles. If you have a close strategic and security partnership, as we do, then information sharing is very important to that. We believe that the information exchanges and the principles upon which we exchange information can be enhanced and improved by the agreement that we’ve made today, and can be enhanced and improved by possibly underpinning by a legal Memorandum or a legal Agreement.

So we’ve been very pleased with the progress that we’ve made today. In addition to that, of course, our two Defence Ministers have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding so far as Defence matters are concerned, so I’ll invite Australia’s Minister for Defence Mr Fitzgibbon to make some remarks about that and other issues that he has discussed with his counterpart.

MINISTER FITZGIBBON:

Thank you, and like Minister Smith I want to thank Ministers Nakasone and Hamada and indeed the Government of Japan for hosting us today. The Government of Australia puts a very, very high value on our economic relationship, our strategic relationship and of course on our personal relationship. And we’ve been quite privileged today and again tonight over dinner to play a role in further developing all of those relationships. We are important partners with a very critical role to play in promoting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, and we look forward to working with the Government of Japan in the future on those issues.

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I was very privileged with Minister Hamada to finally sign the Memorandum on Defence Cooperation. This marks another milestone in our defence relationship. We can now move forward in tangible and practical ways to ensure that we have closer defence cooperation in promoting peace and stability in our region. Indeed in the Indian Ocean, and of course moving forward on joint exercises and other exercises which assist us in countering maritime threats in the region and of course playing a role in countering terrorism in the region and again, of course, playing a role in dealing with humanitarian and disaster relief issues in our region.

So I’m very pleased to have been part of that and look very much forward to working with the Government of Japan on these issues in the future.

MINISTER NAKASONE:

As I said earlier, Japan and Australia are cooperating on security in the Asia-Pacific. And on various international issues as well, we are having discussions. The two Ministers left Australia last night and arrived in Tokyo this morning and then without staying in Japan will once again fly back to Australia tonight. So it’s been an extremely short stay, so I would like to express my gratitude once again to the two Ministers for making this trip.

This concludes the joint press event, and thank you very much for coming.

Media enquiries: Mr Smith's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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