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Japan, Australia agree to boost security cooperation with U.S.

Kyodo

The foreign ministers of Japan and Australia agreed Sunday to strengthen security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions with the United States amid China’s growing maritime assertiveness.

At a news conference after a meeting in Sydney with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said that security cooperation between the two countries and their common ally the United States is important.

Kishida and Carr also agreed that the U.N. Security Council needs to take bold measures against North Korea, which carried out a rocket launch last month that was widely suspected to be a ballistic missile test, defying a resolution by the most important governing body of the international organization.

An Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement between the two countries is expected to take effect this year, allowing the Self-Defense Forces and Australian military to share food, fuel and other supplies during security operations.

Among other issues, Kishida, who is on his first overseas trip since assuming his post late last month, and Carr discussed territorial rows in the South China Sea involving Beijing and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as multilateral and bilateral free-trade agreements.

Carr also said it is not desirable for the Japanese government to review the 1993 statement on women who were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military during World War II.

His comments came after Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga hinted late last month at a possible review of the 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono that acknowledged the Imperial Japanese Army forced women into sexual slavery, and apologized to the victims.