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Australia signing defence pact with Japan weeks before 1942 Bombing of Darwin 80th anniversary

Australia is signing an historic defence pact with Japan to counter China’s aggression just six weeks before the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a treaty would be signed between the two nations during a virtual leaders’ summit on January 6.

His new Japanese counterpart Kishida Fumio will be adding his signature just three months after he took over as Prime Minister, following Yoshihide Suga troubled one-year stint as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The signing of the defence and security co-operation agreement is occurring six weeks before the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, commemorating February 19, 1942. 

During World War II, Japan was Australia’s most ferocious enemy, dropping bombs on Darwin during 64 air raids between February 1942 and November 1943 that killed 252 Allied soldiers and civilians.

Australia is signing an historic defence pact with Japan to counter China’s aggression just six weeks before the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin. Kishida Fumio (pictured) will be adding his signature just three months after he took over as Japan’s Prime Minister, following Yoshihide Suga troubled one-year stint as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party

Despite that history, and the torture and forced labour of Australian prisoners of war on the Thai-Burma railway after the fall of Singapore, Mr Morrison said ‘Australia and Japan are the closest of friends’.

Since the end of the war, Japan has been restricted to only using its military for self-defence purposes but its defence capabilities are being tested as China militarises the South China Sea.

‘This landmark treaty will underpin greater and more complex practical engagement between the Australian Defence Force and the Japanese Self-Defence Forces,’ Mr Morrison said in a statement.  

‘It will, for the first time, provide a clear framework for enhanced interoperability and co-operation between our two forces.’

An in-principle Reciprocal Access Agreement between Australia and Japan was agreed to in November 2020, to enable more defence co-operation.

The treaty signing on Thursday will formalise that. 

Mr Morrison and Mr Kishida, as leaders of centre-right political parties, are negotiating closer defence ties to counter the rise of a more assertive China under the Communist leadership of President Xi Jinping. 

‘Our Special Strategic Partnership is stronger than it has ever been, reflecting our shared values, our commitment to democracy and human rights, and our common interests in a free, open and resilient Indo-Pacific region,’ Mr Morrison said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a treaty would be signed between the two nations during a virtual leaders' summit on January 6 (he is pictured in Washington on September 24, 2021 attending a Quad summit with the US, India and Japan)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a treaty would be signed between the two nations during a virtual leaders’ summit on January 6 (he is pictured in Washington on September 24, 2021 attending a Quad summit with the US, India and Japan)

The signing of the defence and security co-operation agreement is occurring less than six weeks before the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin. During World War II, Japan was Australia's most ferocious enemy, dropping bombs on Darwin during 64 air raids between February 1942 (the remains of  burning ship 80 years ago, pictured) and November 1943 that killed 252 Allied soldiers and civilians

The signing of the defence and security co-operation agreement is occurring less than six weeks before the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin. During World War II, Japan was Australia’s most ferocious enemy, dropping bombs on Darwin during 64 air raids between February 1942 (the remains of  burning ship 80 years ago, pictured) and November 1943 that killed 252 Allied soldiers and civilians

China wasn’t mentioned in Mr Morrison’s media statement but he mentioned the Quad arrangement with Japan, India and the United States to advance renewable energy technology.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings said the treaty would see Australia and Japan access each others military facilities along with ports and air strips.

Mr Jennings said a defence pact between Australia and Japan would stymie China’s attempts to move Association of Southeast Asian Nation members away from the world’s democracies to ‘weaken their regional cooperation’. 

Now Mr Morrison and Mr Fumio, as leaders of centre-right political parties, are negotiating closer defence ties to counter the rise of a more assertive China under the Communist leadership of President Xi Jinping (pictured are People's Liberation Army soldiers standing in front of a giant screen of the Chinese Communist Party leader)

Now Mr Morrison and Mr Fumio, as leaders of centre-right political parties, are negotiating closer defence ties to counter the rise of a more assertive China under the Communist leadership of President Xi Jinping (pictured are People’s Liberation Army soldiers standing in front of a giant screen of the Chinese Communist Party leader) 

‘By aligning our diplomatic efforts in Southeast Asia, we strengthen our chances to stop Beijing turning the region into a series of isolated client states,’ he said in an opinion piece.

From 1967 to 2008, Japan was Australia’s biggest trading partner until China took over that role.

Almost a century ago, Japan was the aggressor in Asia culminating in the 1931 invasion of Manchuria in China.

Now there are fears China could military invade Taiwan, an autonomous democratic island state, to bring it under its direct control. 

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