The capital punishment system may be an obstacle for Australia to conclude a security agreement with Japan during Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s visit in January next year, The Australian reported Tuesday.

The so-called Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) sets out a legal framework for Japanese and Australian troops’ activities in each other’s country. It is regarded as crucial for the two countries, which are hoping to enhance bilateral defense cooperation at a time when China is expanding its activities in the Indo-Pacific.

The two governments failed to realize their initial goal of concluding the pact by the middle of this year.

The Australian side is seriously concerned about the possibility of the country’s defense personnel facing the death penalty for offenses committed while they are staying in Japan, according to the report. In Australia, the death penalty has been abolished.

Japan and Australia are seeking a solution that would untangle Australia’s concerns while protecting Japan’s sovereignty.

The two governments aim to conclude the pact at a summit meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Morrison, set to take place in mid-January.

However, the paper said, “It is unclear whether the RAA will be ready for in-principle agreement.”

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