Sydney – Australia and Japan are discussing a visit by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Tokyo in the coming months amid China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, the Australian Financial Review reported on Thursday.
The visit is being considered with the aim of staring down Beijing and sending whoever wins the U.S. presidential election in November a strong signal that the United States needs to step up its engagement in the region, the report said.
According to the report, the two countries are planning to use the occasion of Morrison’s trip to Japan to sign a Reciprocal Access Agreement that would facilitate mutual visits by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military.
The Australian prime minister’s visit to Japan has been strongly requested by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Morrison has also been keen to realize the visit, but there are issues including the need to place himself in a two-week quarantine upon his return to Australia due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Morrison had looked at coordinating a visiting to Tokyo around a meeting of Group of Seven leaders in Washington that was originally set to take place in summer, but the summit is now likely to be held after the presidential election.
Australia called for an international investigation on the source of the novel coronavirus outbreak, a move that led to the worsening of its relations with China.
China has stepped up its pressure on Australia, launching an antidumping investigation into Australian wine on Tuesday.
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