Japan and Australia to ink joint-drill pact in Indo-Pacific push

Japan and Australia to ink joint-drill pact in Indo-Pacific push

‘Quad’ members to agree on new framework next week

TOKYO — Japan and Australia are set to sign a broad agreement facilitating joint military exercises in a bid to strengthen the broader “Quad” partnership and project a show of unity against Chinese maritime expansionism.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will discuss the framework when Morrison visits Japan next Tuesday, Nikkei has learned.

A pact to facilitate joint military exercises will ease restrictions on the Japan Self-Defense Forces as well as on Australian military personnel while they are staying in each other’s country for such drills.

That Suga and Morrison decided to meet in person despite the pandemic signals their commitment to the Indo-Pacific region. Members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which also includes the U.S. and India, the two nations increasingly see each other as key partners in regional security, given the uncertainty over how aggressive the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will be toward China.

Under the deal, military personnel will not be required to undergo screening when entering the receiving country. The paperwork to transport weapons, military vehicles and other hardware for the joint exercises will be streamlined, and land-based drills will become easier to carry out. The two sides could also plan island defense drills going forward.