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Focus on defence as leaders of Japan, Australia meet in Perth

Regional security and energy will be at the forefront of talks between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in Perth.
The pair will catch up at an annual Australia-Japan leaders’ meeting in the West Australian capital on Saturday, where a defence announcement and the issue of energy supply will be top of the agenda.

“This is a critical event,” Mr Albanese said.

“Prime Minister Kishida and I will discuss ways to strengthen our cooperation and achieve our shared vision for a peaceful, stable, climate-resilient and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”
This will be the fourth time Mr Albanese and Mr Kishida will have met since Labor won the May federal election.
The prime minister said talks will involve implementing the Reciprocal Access Agreement, which creates a framework for the countries’ militaries to train and operate in each other’s nations.
Negotiations for the defence agreement stalled over the possibility of Australian troops being executed in Japan, which still enforces the death penalty.
The Japanese prime minister said he hoped to strengthen cooperation over regional security and energy supply.
“Australia is the most important country for Japan’s energy policy,” Mr Kishida said before boarding his plane for Australia.

“I want to hold frank discussions over the importance of securing a stable supply of energy resources.”

Mr Kishida’s visit to Australia will be the first by a Japanese prime minister since Shinzo Abe in 2018.
Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Alex Bristow described the reciprocal agreement as “tremendously important”.
“It makes operations much smoother, and it’s important that both Australia and Japan are US alliance partners, increasing interoperability,” Dr Bristow said.
Energy resilience will also be a priority issue, he said, with expectations the two countries may be more forthcoming in explicitly stating the need to counter Chinese aggression in the region.
He said economic coercion used by Beijing may also be raised during the talks, in addition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Transitioning to clean energy and investing in new technologies to achieve net zero will also be on the agenda.
“As Australia seeks to become a clean energy superpower, we will remain a steady and reliable supplier of energy to Japan including for new energy sources like hydrogen,” Mr Albanese said.

A lunch will be jointly hosted with Premier Mark McGowan for the state’s business community and Mr Kishida.

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