Japan, Australia OK free trade, defense deals

Abe says he hopes to craft new 'special relationship' with Canberra


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, signed bilateral accords to boost free trade and cooperation on defense equipment and technology research and development, during summit talks in the Australian capital Tuesday.

On the second leg of his three-nation tour of Oceania, Abe said in a speech to the Australian parliament that he hopes to make ties between Japan and Australia a new “special relationship,” and stressed the importance of the international rule of law, a veiled criticism of China. He became the first Japanese leader to address Australia’s parliament.

Abe also spoke of his administration’s recent move to reinterpret the Constitution to allow the Self-Defense Forces to defend allies under armed attack through collective self-defense.

The defense deal signed Tuesday would enable the transfer of defense equipment and technology, as Japan overhauled its arms embargo and eased its export rules in April. Australia has shown strong interest in buying Japan-made submarines. Models with stealth technology are regarded as being among the best in their class.

On the economic front, Abe and Abbott signed a free trade deal after seven years of negotiations, Tokyo’s first with a major agricultural exporter.

The accord includes a cut in tariffs on Aussie beef imports of up to half the current rate of 38.5 percent, to be introduced incrementally. Canberra is scrapping its 5 percent tariff on Japanese auto imports.

  • wada

    I was really touched by Abe and Abbott speech. Abe speech was open in Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet on internet. We can read it at Remarks By Prime Minister Abe to the Australian Parliament in the homepage. We can read Abbott speech at other news paper on internet.

  • jmanngod

    whilst the rest of the TPP partners are considering turfing Japan out of talks, as it holds on to its archaic and inefficient practices on protectionism; Japan makes a small concession to OZ. This can only be seen as a desire to gain Australia’s support when the other TPP partners tell the US that they no longer want to hold negotiations with Japan. enough is enough…. Sign the TPP without Japan and allow them in with already established rules, or not.

  • Peter

    To the people of Japan, we thank you for the visit of your Prime Minister and all the it has brought to our two nations, free trade and a lasting and genuine respect. We have a new understanding of your country and of this man of honour.

  • Darryl McGarry

    I have been watching Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Australia and the entire celebration on ABC 24News. Prime Minister Abbott has been stroking Abe, as with his grandfather Kishi, a former Prime Minister of Japan, like he is flirting with a new girlfriend. Japan has repented its sins of the past, a sincere apology for the crimes commited by Japan and Japanese soldiers in the Second World War was enunciated in English. Japan has reflected on its wicked past and wants to progress with Australia into the future. Let’s just forget the past.

    Meanwhile, Australia gets access to Japanese military technology, is allowed further penetration into the Japanese market in terms of a list agricultural products such as beef in a sector where Japan is so inefficient, and Japan gets to crow that it has a free trade agreement with a major developed economy. Also, Japan gets a friend contra-China. Japan is important to Australia, but is number 2 now behind China in terms of trade. Australia is a world resource export superpower. The resource minnow Japan needs support. Australia will oblige. This all sounds nice.

    How will the Japanese constitution be interpreted in the future if Japan can find the flexibility to renounce its peace clause in terms of projecting power beyond its borders – now hedged with the stated condition by Abe that Japan will be contributing to other nation’s international peace and stability efforts – when Japan has acceded in the past to an international agreement, the convention on whaling which prohibits hunting, yet Japan has been exposed by the International Court of Justice as one treacherous interpreting the convention to suit its own nefarious ends by calling it “scientific” whale hunting?

    If Japan decides to operate its own peace and stability operations in isolation of other nations in the future, will it then feel that it has been justified by a renewed interpretation of its constitution?

    Japan is on a slippery slope.

    Stay tuned to see if it honours its free trade agreement with Australia or finds itself humiliated by the ICJ or some other institution taken to task again by Australia.