Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia have envisaged a new security pact

Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia have envisaged a new security pact


Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Australia on Saturday, where he is expected to sign a revised security agreement with his Australian counterpart to address China’s rapidly expanding military capability.

Kishida met Anthony Albanese for talks to finalize an agreement to share more sensitive information and deepen military cooperation.

“Relationships between Japan and Australia on security issues have been building over many years,” a Japanese foreign ministry official said ahead of the meeting in the western city of Perth.

“We hope that this visit will be an opportunity to further deepen security cooperation.”

It is the first visit by a Japanese prime minister to Australia since 2018.

The two Pacific nations are expected to focus on sharing information – particularly signals and geospatial data coming from electronic listening devices and high-tech satellites.

Neither country has extensive foreign spy networks or armies of human resources abroad – Japan has no foreign spy agency equivalent to the American CIA, Britain’s MI6, or even Australia’s much smaller agency ASIO.

But according to expert Bryce Wakefield, both Australia and Japan have sophisticated signals intelligence capabilities — a form of intelligence gathering by intercepting communications.

Wakefield, director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, said the deal could be a model for Japan to develop deeper security ties with countries like Britain.

There have long been rumors of behind-the-scenes intelligence cooperation between Japan and Australia.

This agreement will deepen and codify this partnership, but it is also seen as another small step towards Japan joining the powerful Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance between Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

It is “a landmark event that Japan can share SIGINT (signals intelligence) with a foreign nation other than the United States,” Ken Kotani, an expert on the history of Japanese intelligence at Nihon University, told AFP.

Closer cooperation has been hampered by long-standing concerns about Japan’s ability to handle sensitive confidential material and transmit it securely.

For now, Australia will likely be forced to screen all information leaked to Japan for information sourced from the Five Eyes network.

– China in mind –

Prime Ministers Kishida and Albanese are also expected to pledge more military and energy cooperation.

Japan is a major buyer of Australian gas and has made a number of big bets on Australian-produced hydrogen energy as it seeks to reduce domestic power generation shortages and fossil fuel dependency.

“Japan imports 40 percent of its LNG from Australia. Therefore, it is very important for Japan to have a stable relationship with Australia from the point of view of energy,” the Japanese official said.

Saturday’s deal is expected to update a 2007 deal agreed upon when Beijing was much weaker militarily and much less bellicose in its dealings with the world.

Since Xi Jinping came to power, Beijing’s military has become much stronger and its stance more aggressive.

During Xi’s decades-long rule, China has built the world’s largest navy, transformed the world’s largest standing army, and amassed a nuclear and ballistic arsenal to trouble any enemy.

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