Wed, 23 Jun 2021

Tokyo [Japan], November 16 (ANI): Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, may agree to sign a defence agreement on Tuesday in a bid to counter China's growing influence in the South China Sea and over the Pacific island nations.

South China Morning Post reported PM Morrison's arrival in Japan on Tuesday where security experts expect him to wind up a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) with Suga to establish a legal framework for their troops to visit for to conduct military joint operations and training.

"There will be something to announce from the meeting," a Japanese foreign ministry official told a media briefing, without elucidating further.

According to the SCMP, this defence agreement has taken six years to negotiate and would need to be ratified by lawmakers of both countries.

Defence experts believe that Japan and Australia are seeking closer ties amid growing concerns about Chinese activity in the region, including militarisation in the South China Sea, manoeuvres around disputed islands in the East China Sea, and Beijing's growing sway over Pacific island nations further east.

"It's helpful for other nations to take a more active role in military activities and operations in the region, not least as the Americans are overstretched," Grant Newsham, a research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies was quoted by SCMP.

Meanwhile, Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Monday said Tokyo would urge Joe Biden to focus on foreign, including maintaining order in the region.

"Japan has a major challenge [in ensuring that] the United States remains committed to order in the Indo-Pacific region, climate change, security and other global issues," he told a press conference at the Japan National Press Club.

He said Japan must also continue to work to counter China's growing maritime presence in the East and South China seas.

"Japan needs to resolutely prevent China's unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China seas by force." (ANI)

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