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Address to the Japan National Press Club, Tokyo.

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Media contacts Nigel Blunden (Dr Nelson) 02 6277 7800 0407 632 931

Defence Media Liaison 02 6265 3343 0408 498 664

Tuesday, 5 June 2007


Thank you very much Mr Yajima and the National Press Club for bestowing on me the honour of addressing the Club this afternoon.

I am joined here today by the Chief of the Australian Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, His Excellency our Ambassador to Japan, Mr Murray McLean, and also the Secretary of the Department of Defence in Australia, Mr Nick Warner. So if the questions are particularly difficult I have no doubt that they will be happy to take them.

The first thing I should say is that this is my first visit to Japan and it is a great privilege to do so as Australia’s Minister for Defence in an environment where our relationship with Japan has never been stronger nor has it been closer. And as a devotee of the sport, I particularly thank your country for giving very high quality mass produced motorcycles to the rest of the world, including Australia.

Throughout the 20th Century there have been three critical phases in Australia’s economic, social and political development and Japan has featured very heavily in all three. Our emerging national identity was shaped largely by the expeditionary campaign which we took to Turkey in particular in 1915, and the Japanese navy provided escort protection and assistance to our troops across the Indian Ocean, particularly with its ship, a cruiser, the Ibuki.

And then of course there were the circumstances of World War Two and thirdly, in emerging from the Second World War, Japan has played a very important role in supporting Australia’s economic reconstruction and growth, particularly now as our largest trading partner and a true friend in democracy, security and peace in our region.

Australia sees Japan, with its immense economic power and a modern, technologically advanced self defence force as being well positioned to address the emerging security challenges not only in our region but throughout the world.

In recent years, Australia has, amongst other things, worked very closely with Japan - in Cambodia, in East Timor and then in 2005, as an irony to some Australians and

possibly some Japanese, we deployed 450 Australian soldiers to protect and work with your Self-Defense Force engineers in Southern Iraq.

Today our two countries share a very strong and common commitment to democracy, to freedom, freedom of speech, freedom as human beings, mutual respect, security and stabilisation and the belief in the alliance our two countries have with the United States of America.

Australia is in the process of building up our Australian Defence Forces, both in terms of capability, people and outreach through our region and the world. We are doing this not only, or so much because of the threats that we see, but for the threats that we cannot.

Our defence planning is shaped by many things, which include the threat of nuclear proliferation by individual rogue states or non-state actors, asymmetric threats, failing states, including in our own region from East Timor through to the South West Pacific - we are concerned that we can not allow states to fail, particularly in our own part of the world. We appreciate also that with the growing importance of resource security, with changes in the world’s climate that will have an impact on population shifts, and the ever-changing global strategic posture of the United States of America, currently being shaped particularly by events in the Middle East, that it is very important for Australia to have an effective defence force to face these and other threats, none of which is more important than terrorism.

In protecting Australia’s people, interests and values, we have three priorities. Of course we are focused on the security and protection of our own borders, not from any kind of foreseeable, immediate threat, but rather illegal fishing, people arriving in Australia unlawfully, and the protection of our gas and oil platforms.

Our focus then - equally important - is in our immediate region through what is described as the arc of instability for Australia, which extends from East Timor through to the Southwest Pacific, where there is significant and, in our view, unfortunately, likely to be in the medium term continuing political, economic and social instability. And it is for that reason principally that we have decided to increase the size of our army, our regular army, from around 27,500 to 30,500.

The third focus, which in this modern world is no less important than our borders or our immediate region, is the rest of the world, and especially Central, North East Asia, the Middle East, and as a part of that nurturing and supporting our key alliances. The Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation which Prime Minister John Howard signed with Prime Minister Abe very recently in March is intended to further strengthen our security relationship with Japan, within which we have a number of objectives.

We believe, given the common foundations and interests of our countries, certainly since the end of World War II, that we all today have a common strategic outlook in terms of security, particularly in our region.

The Joint Declaration, we believe, gives us a framework within which we can, firstly, develop closer relationships in defence and security and a dialogue about our mutual concerns.

And our focus then is working with Japan and the Japanese ministry for defence to ensure we are able to work together on issues such as security and stabilisation, peacekeeping, counter proliferation, counter terrorism, humanitarian support, in our region especially, and assistance in times of disaster.

We have already commenced exchanges of key personnel and also of equipment, and we welcomed to Australia in May last year two Japanese P-3 Orions and we expect to have Australian Orions and Australian naval vessels come to Japan this October, and we would like to develop much more of that.

Australia is also extremely concerned about the behaviour of North Korea. We strongly support North Korea’s full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, and Australia will support what needs to be done to see full

compliance by North Korea with the Resolution.

Australia also supports the development of ballistic missile defence by Japan in cooperation with the United States of America as a defensive measure specifically for rogue states such as North Korea in the region. And within the limits of our economic resources and capabilities we are studying the extent to which Australia might be able to cooperate in a responsible way with such defences. In particular, we will shortly announce the construction of three air warfare destroyers which may give our country in the future the option to put onto those destroyers a mobile and ballistic missile

defence capability.

And, in conclusion, before I take questions, there is one other issue which I must raise here in Japan.

For the Japanese people especially, but for all of us who live in this region, the threat presented by North Korea, with its Taepodong-2 in July and its nuclear detonation in October last year, is real and needs to be dealt with, with all of the diplomatic force

that we can apply.

But for we as Australians, for my generation and that of my children, what is most shaping our outlook is terrorism, which is predominantly but not only, Islamic extremism. The terrorists are not only fanatical in their opposition to the United States of America, they are fanatically opposed to countries like ours that are democratic, that are open, that are free, and believe in allowing people to pursue their own political and religious convictions.

Australia has been cooperating and working very closely with many countries in Southeast Asia in fighting terrorism. At the moment the struggles against terrorism are concentrated in Afghanistan and also in Iraq. Japan has been very generous in

providing humanitarian aid and assistance to the people of Iraq and also to the people of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a long way from Australia, but in 2002 three men that had trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan - Mukhlas, Hambali and Samudra - murdered 88 Australians in Indonesia along with people from other countries.

And whilst Afghanistan has always been the crossroads to Asia, it is now the crossroads to a modern world. And if countries such as ours - as yours is doing, as ours is doing, NATO countries, the United States obviously and many others - if all of us do not do everything we possibly can to defeat the Taliban and stop them giving sanctuary to al Qaeda in Afghanistan, to support President Musharraf in dealing with quite difficult challenges on the Pakistan side of the border, then we will live in quite a different world.

Thank you very much.


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