Australia and Japan will sign a "historic" treaty that will further strengthen defense and security cooperation during a virtual leaders’ summit Thursday, in a move that could further inflame tensions with China.

The agreement is the first of its type for Japan other than with the United States, and marks a step closer in a relationship that is often referred to as a "quasi alliance.”

The signing of a Reciprocal Access Agreement will underpin greater and more complex practical engagement between the Australian Defense Force and the Japanese Self-Defense Force, Prime Minister Scott Morrison wrote in an emailed statement. The pact will provide a clear framework for enhanced interoperability and cooperation, he added.