The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media Release

6 June 2007

Japan-Australia Joint Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations

Joint Statement 2007

1. Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso, Japanese Minister of Defense Fumio Kyuma, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer and Australian Minister for Defence Brendan Nelson met in Tokyo on 6 June 2007 to discuss global and regional security and the state of relations between Japan and Australia. The meeting constituted the inaugural Japan-Australia Joint Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations based on the Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation signed by Prime Ministers Abe and Howard in March 2007.

2. Ministers shared the view that the strategic partnership had grown significantly in recent years and the bilateral relationship had never been stronger. Ministers especially welcomed the historic Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation (JDSC) which reflected a desire by both countries for even closer security cooperation, and to enhance their joint contribution to regional peace and security. Ministers welcomed the progress to date in developing a forward-looking action plan of specific measures to implement the JDSC. Ministers recognised that strengthening bilateral cooperation on security combined with our dynamic economic relationship in this 50th anniversary year of the Commerce Agreement raised our comprehensive strategic partnership to new levels.

3. Both countries recognised each other as its indispensable partner in the region. Ministers noted that the bilateral relationship was underpinned by shared democratic values, common interests in peace and stability in the region, and respective alliance relationships with the United States. Ministers committed to deepening their trilateral engagement with the United States under the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD), as well as in the area of practical defence and security cooperation, and reaffirmed the importance of the continuing presence and engagement of the United States in the region. Japan and Australia will coordinate with the United States to hold the third round of the Ministerial Meeting of the TSD on the occasion of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting in August.

Work on Common Strategic Issues

4. Ministers discussed the security environment within the region and beyond and recognised that there are tasks ahead that require joint contribution by Japan and Australia. Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to continue working together on a wide range of global security issues to meet common challenges including cooperation in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in response to the North Korean nuclear and missile threats, and in helping secure long-term sustainable development in East Timor and the Pacific Island countries.

5. In particular, Ministers deplored the destabilising actions of North Korea and expressed deep concerns over North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs. They reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate on measures to fully implement the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718. Ministers also reaffirmed the importance of cooperation on humanitarian issues including the expeditious resolution of the abduction issue.

Advancing Practical Cooperation

6. Ministers committed, in jointly working on security issues within the region and beyond, to advancing practical cooperation between Japan and Australia. In this context, Ministers decided to promote measures to facilitate the exchange of information of strategic importance. Welcoming the progress of the work to date, Ministers decided to accelerate the process of developing a forward-looking action plan to implement the JDSC, including the aspects of joint training and exercises.

Defence Cooperation

7. Ministers welcomed the transition of the Japan Defense Agency to the Ministry of Defense and the stipulation of International Peace Cooperation as a primary mission of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

8. Ministers noted that since both countries' participation in UN Peace Keeping Operations in Cambodia in 1992, Japan and Australia have deepened cooperation in various activities including UN Peace Keeping Operations in East Timor, Iraqi Reconstruction activities and International Disaster Relief activities for the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean.

9. Ministers also committed to the expansion of bilateral defence cooperation including through unit-to-unit exchanges through aircraft visits, including P-3C and U-4, and ships, as well as enhancement of defence personnel exchanges. Japan welcomed Australia's invitation to observe the forthcoming Australia -United States Talisman Sabre exercise in June.

10. Ministers emphasised the contribution that bilateral defence cooperation could make to the development of trilateral cooperation between Japan, Australia and the United States, as reaffirmed in the first trilateral defence ministerial meeting on 2 June, and to broader multilateral exchanges and activities. They noted with satisfaction the successful Trilateral Pacific Global Air Mobility Seminar at Yokota Air Base in May. They looked forward to close cooperation between Japanese and Australian defence and other authorities in the Desktop Exercise on Disaster Relief planned for 2008 under ARF auspices.

11. Ministers further welcomed the decision in the Defence Ministerial meeting on 5 June to commence updating the Memorandum on Defence Exchange, signed in 2003, as the JDSC action plan in the field of defence. The work on updating the memorandum will promote opportunities for expanding bilateral defence cooperation across a range of defence activities.

Cooperation on Disaster Relief

12. Japan and Australia decided to conduct joint training and exchanges in the field of humanitarian assistance between the two countries. In order to enhance the relief capability of both countries, an Australian Urban Search and Rescue team will participate in the Japan Disaster Relief Search and Rescue Joint Training in Japan this autumn. Ministers also decided to consider enhancing regional capacity in search and rescue.

Cooperation in Peacekeeping and Peace Building

13. Ministers decided to explore opportunities to develop and enhance regional capacity in peace keeping and peace building including through joint capacity building activities for third country nationals, and through promoting exchange of personnel in the region.

Cooperation in Countering Terrorism and Proliferation

14. Ministers renewed their commitment to wide-ranging cooperation to counter the threat posed by international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means. Welcoming the successful Trilateral Counter-Terrorism Consultations on 5 and 6 June in Sydney, and on-going cooperation in the context of global non-proliferation efforts such as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), Ministers decided to enhance cooperation and information exchange, both in the bilateral and trilateral context.

15. Ministers noted the threat posed to international civil aviation by man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) in the hands of terrorists and other non-state groups. They stressed the importance of intensifying their efforts in the region to counter the illicit proliferation of MANPADS.

Cooperation on Stability of Pacific Island Countries

16. Consistent with their shared commitment to the security and prosperity of the Pacific region, Japan and Australia decided to commence an annual dialogue of their senior officials on the approach to that region, including in relation to development assistance.

Next Meeting

17. Australia will host the next Japan-Australia Joint Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations in 2008.

Media Inquiries: Mr Downer's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555


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