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Japan, Australia Broadly Agree on Pact to Boost Defense Cooperation

Japan, Australia Broadly Agree on Pact to Boost Defense Cooperation

   Tokyo, Nov. 17 (Jiji Press)--Underscoring the importance of jointly realizing a free and open lndo-Pacific region, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, agreed in Tokyo Tuesday on broad terms of a pact to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation in view of China's hegemonic maritime expansion.
   Meeting the press together with the Australian prime minster after the Japan-Australian summit, held at the Japanese prime minister's office, Suga said the Reciprocal Access Agreement will firmly back the two nations' determination that they will contribute to peace and security in the region.
   Morrison noted that the two countries have taken a big step forward.
   At the summit, the first opportunity for Suga to talk with the head of a foreign country in Japan since assuming the post of prime minister in September, the two leaders signed a joint statement calling on the Japanese and Australian governments to hold a meeting of foreign and defense ministers early next year and sign the reciprocal access pact as soon as possible.
   Tokyo and Canberra have been negotiating the treaty to stipulate the status of the Japanese and Australian forces when they make mutual visits, but have yet to bridge the gap over Japan's capital punishment system, people familiar with the matter said.

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