ABC, Tokyo, interview with Matthew Carney

  • Transcript, E&OE
12 June 2014

MATTHEW CARNEY Ok in a nutshell what was achieved over 2+2, what do you think was most important essence to come out?

JULIE BISHOP The Foreign and Defence Ministers meeting is an opportunity for us to talk about way of strengthening our defence and security and intelligence ties, and we certainly did that at this meeting. It's the fifth 2+2 meeting that's been held, but this was an unprecedented opportunity given the platform that Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minster Abbot gave us in April when they both decided that they would take the defence and foreign policy relationship to a new level, and that was the kind of discussion that we had yesterday, practical ways of cooperation in this sphere.

MATTHEW CARNEY Can you just quickly outline what are the practical ways in terms of building and strengthening our relationship?

JULIE BISHOP In the defence sphere we are talking about exchanging information, exchanging technology and material, more training exercises, also working closely with the United States. We have a trilateral security dialogue - a strategic dialogue with the United States and Japan and we discussed that in detail. This is a very positive relationship. We embrace Japan's proposal that it exercise its UN charter right to have a more normal defence posture. We've said that publically on a number of occasions. We appreciate there is a debate going on here domestically, but we see Japan as a positive force for good in our region. And we've been working increasingly with Japan in a number of areas, including in South Sudan, in the rescue operations for MH370 the Malaysian airline and more recently in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, we worked closely with the Japanese in that scenario as well.

MATTHEW CARNEY On the strategic and defence level, why do you think Australia needs to back the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Abe I'm talking about, on his push for a greater role in regional security, why do you think that's essential?

JULIE BISHOP It is in Australia's national interest for us to have a close level of cooperation with Japan and the United States, we've focused on regional stability and security, that's in our national interest and it's in the interest of our friends and neighbours in our neighbourhood, the Asia Pacific.

MATTHEW CARNEY And what about the China question, what's your comments on how this relationship is growing, how is it going to be perceived in China do you think?

JULIE BISHOP It's not a zero sum game. Strengthening our relationship with one country doesn't mean we weaken our relationship with another. As the Defence Minister has pointed out, we are engaging with China, at the defence level there is talk of increased joint exercises and we want to work with China to ensure that there is peace and security and stability in our region. That why we've been very firm on the territorial disputes. We don't take a position on the sovereignty of these claims, but we certainly call for a peaceful resolution pursuant to international law.

MATTHEW CARNEY So is your, I just want to clarify you position on your Senkakus or the Diaoyus as they are known in China, is it that you back in terms of what President Obama when he came to Tokyo, that you back China's, sorry Japan's administration of the Senkakus, I know you take no position of the sovereignty, but is that what your position is, the government's position is, that you back control, Japanese control of the Senkakus?

JULIE BISHOP The Australian Government makes no statement about the sovereignty claims, we don't back sides in relation to territorial disputes. What we do call for is peaceful resolution, pursuant to international law. That means no unilateral action, no use of force, no coercive action, and that's been a consistent position that the Australian government has adopted and will continue to do so. I note that President Obama made that statement in relation to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and that has given confidence to Japan but Australia's position is to ensure that there is a peaceful resolution and in the meantime no unilateral action and we want to ensure that the status quo is maintained.

MATTHEW CARNEY I just want to clarify, so you don't, you don't have a consistent policy obviously with America on the Senkaku's?

JULIE BISHOP I don't know what you mean by "clarify", I thought my statement was pretty straightforward, I'm saying Australia does not take a position on the sovereignty claims, and that's as it should be. These are matters for resolution through international law processes, but Australia calls for peaceful resolution, no unilateral action, no coercive action and no use of force.

MATTHEW CARNEY Yeah, no sorry Minister, and this will be my last question, I wasn't talking about the sovereignty, I think President Obama was talking about the administration, the Japanese administration, in the Senkaku's now, currently, do you support that?

JULIE BISHOP That's a statement by the United States as to how they perceive the administration of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, it's not a matter for Australia to pass comment on that. That's a matter between the United States and Japan, our point consistently has been and I hope I can clarify this for you, our point has been consistent that we don't take an issue on the sovereignty claims, on the territorial claims, on the disputes over the territorial and maritime borders. What we focus on is ensuring that there is peace and security and stability in our region and that will benefit all countries including Australia, but most certainly China and Japan.

MATTHEW CARNEY Just, sorry, last one, so you'll be back here then, so it's going to busy times, the next year or two, looks like you'll be coming back to Japan many more times?

JULIE BISHOP There is a regular, annual 2+2 meeting, and also Foreign Minister Kishida and I meet on a regular basis. I was here in April for the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative that was held in Hiroshima and I expect to welcome Foreign Minister Kishida to Australia next year for the 2+2 meeting that will be held in Australia. Likewise Prime Minister Abe is coming to Australia, we hope, next month and also for the G20 meeting. So there is high level exchange between our leaders, our Ministers for Defence and Foreign Ministers but also a very important trade and investment relationship. The Economic Partnership Agreement, the free trade agreement that we have concluded with Japan is certainly going to underpin an enduring trade and investment relationship for decades to come.

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