Newly appointed ambassadors from Japan to Australia are the envy of their colleagues: “How nice to be appointed to a country where there are no real outstanding issues to resolve,” they often say. The same is true of their Australian counterparts in Japan.

This is likely to change. Much like Japan’s ambassador to the United States and his U.S. counterpart, Japan and Australia’s ambassadors will have to take on the momentous task of strengthening strategic cooperation on matters critical to national security.

Japan and Australia do not have the same kind of treaty-based alliance as Japan and the U.S. Nevertheless, it seems likely that the Japan-Australia relationship will develop into an alliance in substance if not in name. The context of this transformation is an ever-harsher international environment.