As the Australian government regularly emphasises, the Australia–Japan partnership is our closest and most mature in Asia, and is fundamentally important to both countries’ strategic and economic interests. The relationship is underpinned by a shared commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as common approaches to international security.
The defence and security aspects of this relationship are underpinned by the 2007 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, which provides the foundation for wide-ranging co-operation on security issues between Australia and Japan, including in law enforcement, border security, counter-terrorism, disarmament and counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, maritime and aviation security, peace operations and humanitarian relief operations.
In 2014, the leaders of both countries elevated the Australia-Japan relationship to a Special Strategic Partnership, and this was further strengthen by reciprocal prime ministerial visits in January 2018 with then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull visiting Japan and in November 2018 with then prime minister Abe Shinzo visiting Australia, including a historic visit to Darwin.
More recently in October 2020, the Minister of Defense of Japan, Kishi Nobuo, and the Australian Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, met in Tokyo. The commitment on both sides to make this visit a success during the height of the COVID pandemic is a testament to the strength and importance of the relationship.
The ministers, in their commitment to build on the momentum of defence co-operation, acknowledged the “strategic and practical depth of bilateral defence and security co-operation, including training and exercises, defence science and technology, and defence industry co-operation, and co-ordination on regional issues of shared interest”. They also acknowledged common objectives and drivers of co-operation, as evidenced in the two nations’ respective strategic settings.
This political support is echoed is key policy documents on both sides. Japan features prominently in the Australian government’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update and likewise defence co-operation with Australia is highlighted in Japan’s National Defense Program Guidelines for FY 2019.
In response to this maturing relationship and desire for deeper co-operation, the International Security Industry Council (ISIC) in Japan will help lead the charge by establishing the Japan-Australia Defence Industry Dialogue (JADID).
ISIC is a non-profit organisation that aims to promote business collaboration between Japanese industry and global defence companies of partner countries. ISIC Japan is made up of a select group of Japanese and foreign government and defence industry experts from Japan, the US, UK, India and Australia. Our primary purpose is to help foster relationships between key stakeholders across the private sector, government (all levels), non-government organisations, defence forces and academia/think tanks.
The president of ISIC Japan, James Angelus, said, “ISIC shares that Australian government’s view that the bilateral relationship is based on trust and is also based on friendship, shared liberal democratic values, common strategic interests and also on our respective alliances with the United States.”
Angelus said that “our philosophy is reflected through our motto for the JADID which is ‘Strengthening Security Through Dialogue’”.
The JADID will be officially launched in the coming weeks and will consist of a webinar series aimed at exploring various aspects of the bilateral defence relationship to identify and promote opportunities to strengthen practical co-operation and partnerships.
The series will cover a range of defence and aerospace sectors, look at geostrategic issues of mutual interest, conduct deep dives into specific projects and sub-sectors, and run VIP guest speaker sessions. When COVID travel restrictions allow, the JADID will also seek to hold in-person events in both Japan and Australia.
ISIC appreciates the support from the Australian and Japanese governments for helping make JADID a success.
Guy Boekenstein is the Australian non-executive director with ISIC, is a graduate of the Japanese government’s National Institute of Defense Studies, and has more than 20 years experience working on Indo-Pacific defence and security issues with the Australian government and in the private sector.