Japan-Australia Ties Key to Regional Stability
Image Credit: Office of the Prime Minister: Japan

Japan-Australia Ties Key to Regional Stability


During the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan held in the Japanese capital this past summer, the foreign ministers of Japan and Australia met on the sidelines to discuss the importance of enhanced bilateral relations in uncertain times. During the meeting, both sides discussed future collaboration on issues ranging from Afghanistan’s development to Burma’s diplomatic thaw with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). On the multilateral side, Australia and Japan continue to work together at regional cooperation frameworks such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Australia and Japan have several common interests but their relationship for the past several decades has been focused almost entirely on economics. There is good reason for this – as Japan and Australia are two of largest and most dynamic economies in the region and also share common democratic and free market values. Bilateral trade amounts to nearly $70 billion annually with a heavy trade imbalance favoring Australian exports to Japan which exceeded $50 billion in 2011. Japan continues to be heavily reliant on Australia’s booming mining sectors such as coal, iron and copper to satiate its manufacturing needs. Meanwhile, Canberra imports motor vehicles, electronics and technological parts from Japan but import growth has largely flat lined due to increased competition from South Korea and China.

Australia has been keen to recognize the dynamism of its backyard. Unfortunately, as result of changing priorities, engagement with Japan has played second fiddle of late to emerging partnerships with Seoul and Beijing. This can no longer be the case. The days when geopolitics and economics were handled separately are a distant memory. Julia Gillard’s administration seems to have recognized this foreign policy gap and has maneuvered its diplomatic compass towards engagement with China while shoring up a strategic foundation with regional allies such as the US, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

Within the past five years, Japan-Australia relations have evolved significantly from the 1970s-80′s which were dominated by trade officials and business exchanges. In 2006, Tokyo and Canberra bolstered their partnership through the signing of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and have since maintained momentum through frequent exchanges, symposiums and meetings on security, defense and trade issues. The security side of the relationship has dramatically increased as Asia’s landscape changes and brings new challenges to both countries. Japan and Tokyo have held four Joint Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations (2+2) meetings since this pact – with the most recent summit taking place earlier this month.

December 2, 2012 at 04:07

It's important that the area develops with the least conflict possible. Australians on the whole have a strong ethical stance and have an important role to play in Asia so that she develops in the most humane, sustainable and fantastic way possible. I think that those of asian descent in Australia have an important role in helping to form a bridge across their various ancestries for a better future. 
I have to say that Japan does not understand how far the whaling issue is affecting it's progress with forming a common understanding with Australia and the rest of Asia. Until this is clear trust between the countries always carry doubt. 
I actually have some sympathy with the Japanese argument when it comes to ethics on whaling one so long as there is strong evidence toward sustainability of the whaling practice. The major problem seems to be the label of scientific whaling. But the 'idea' is that while hunting they conduct research on numbers so that sustainable harvests can be made.
Well I guess at this point many reading this would be outraged by my opinion. But I'm sure some will be logical when reading sensitive discussions like this.
In my view, the intelligence of a cow, sheep or goat or horse are high enough to feel empathy for. That goes for more exotic animals such as crocodiles or impalas etc. 
I did a little search and I'm not alone in having this view. Prof. Flannery (Australian of the Year, Environmental scientist) has expressed a similar view on this matter.


For reference I am a meat eater, that is reducing the amount of meat I eat year on year ( including fish). I am not a vegetarian but for ethical reasons ( with stronger priotrity for environmental/sustainability reasons) I wish to go as far vegetarian as I can in balance with my happiness and health.

Be Way
October 6, 2012 at 14:55

When being small, Australia must act moderately as well as stirring itself out from any big power conflict.   If Australia want to act big, they will need to face the consequence of being defeated.

Pathetic Liars
October 3, 2012 at 14:27

Pathetic.  Would be even more pathetic were it not be for the fact nobody's laughing.  "Lao Ma" aka filipinodefender".  Truly pathetic case.

filipino defender
October 3, 2012 at 03:48

Hahaha and this coming from the source of fake cheap good polluting the whole world with garbage and calling Filipinos pirates? 

October 3, 2012 at 01:40

@billy blogs
You're missing the point or being disingenuous.  Whales are becoming fewer in number and the numbers in the northern hemisphere are so reduced that whalers have to turn to the Southern Ocean.  There is an international ban on whaling but the Japanese get round this by saying that they have to do "scientific" whaling. Most real marine biologists with the aim of doing research carry out observation and tracking of marine creatures and as a rule don't kill masses of the creatures under observation.  It is the height of hypocrisy for  the Japanese government to say that whaling is necessary while, at the same time, the whale-meat is being sold to Japanese fishmongers, restaurants and schools and the rest used to top up the stored whale-meat stocks..

October 2, 2012 at 22:32

Australia is small in populace and other measures. Do  not make the error of equating small with weak. 

Imitators & Liars Without Compunction
October 2, 2012 at 17:33

Yeah, your mother is the Dowager Tzu Zi too?  And your father a filipino pirate, you pseudo Chinese, noy?

billy blogs
October 2, 2012 at 13:48

@The_Observer,  Don't knock it till you try it! Would you rather the meat go to waste? Besides, if the children don't like it there's no obligation for them to eat it. It's served less than once a year at schools but there are restaurants which serve it in all sorts of forms, the one I regularly go is called 'kujira'. Some supermarkets supply it also.

October 1, 2012 at 13:32

1. It shows that China has yet to have any real influence of such a weak country as Australia, even though it makes a lot of money selling China natural resources, it still wont bend for China.

John Chan
October 1, 2012 at 08:53

@Lao Ma,
How do you suppose the alliance of Australia and Japan could make PRC fall? Both of them are American vassal states, even their master has difficulty in standing up against PRC, there is no way the Americans will let their underlings to make them look like a fool and weak.

Lao Ma
October 1, 2012 at 06:57

As a Chinese, I strongly support this alliance. The time must soon come for the PRC to fall from power once and for all. 

Regional Distability
September 29, 2012 at 13:32

Hei, what happened to my totally reasoned comment on "regional stability"?  The Diplomat only publishes comments that does not run counter to its propagandistic objective?  Feels like it.
As far as I am concerned, regional stability is achieved by dialogue and good relations amongst regional countries. An outsider like the U.S. with its polarzing policies only serves to destabilize the region.  Australian-Japan partnership is clearly part of Washington's agenda.  And that's the truth not what's been pushed in the article above.

September 28, 2012 at 16:37

Well if this relationship should show any promise then perhaps the Australians can convince the Japanese to stop 'scientific' whaling in the Antarctic.  Japan actually has large stockpiles of whale-meat from all that 'scientific' throughout the years and in order to clear space for future catches is forcing Japanese school-children to eat whale-meat at lunch-time.

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