On Tuesday 22nd
March 2022, the Perth USAsia Centre hosted the fifth annual Japan Symposium 2022
with the theme, A new era in Australia-Japan security cooperation
. The Symposium featured opening remarks by Australia’s Ambassador to Japan, Jan Adams AO PSM, and keynote addresses by Japan’s Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Yamagami Shingo, and Australia’s Deputy Chief of Army, Major General Natasha Fox AM CSC.
The Symposium underscored that recent trends in the Indo-Pacific’s operating system are posing challenges to Japan and Australia’s shared security interests. In order to promote regional security and stability, additional attention and collaboration between the two countries will be necessary.
Ambassador Yamagami commenced his address by emphasising Australia and Japan’s shared focus on promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Ambassador Yamagami stressed the importance of this relationship in the face of forceful challenges in the European context and to the status quo in the Indo-Pacific, as seen by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China’s military expansion in the South China Sea.
The Symposium comes at a crucial time for strategic relations between Japan and Australia, following the signing of the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister Kishida in January 2022. Ambassador Yamagami noted that the RAA will increase bilateral and multilateral security activities and exercises, serving as a significant step towards deeper collaboration between Japan and Australia.
In addition to heightened defence cooperation, Australia and Japan must continue economic cooperation through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership to meet threats to global supply chains and use of economic coercion.
Major General Fox commenced her address by noting the importance of Japan as a key partner in the Indo-Pacific, built on a relationship of mutual trust and democratic values. She similarly recognised the significance of the RAA for upholding a rules-based order and noted that Australia and Japan can bolster their defence ties through cooperation with AUKUS and ASEAN.
The Symposium concluded with a panel discussion with both speakers, alongside Professor Gordon Flake, the Hon. Richard Court and Hayley Channer. The panel addressed the Australia-Japan relationship in the broader regional context, including addressing major recent changes in the region. Panellists discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its implications for the strategic dynamics of the Indo-Pacific as well as US engagement in the region under the Biden administration.
Following the public event was a private roundtable discussion with His Excellency Yamagami Shingo, Ambassador of Japan to Australia
Ambassador Yamagami and other foremost strategic policy minds discussed Australia and Japan’s unique strategic relationship, future prospects for defence cooperation, and making a positive contribution to regional security.