TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, signed at an online meeting Thursday an agreement stipulating the legal status of Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel and Australian troops while in each other’s territory.
After the signing the Reciprocal Access Agreement, aimed at strengthening bilateral security cooperation amid China’s growing hegemonic moves in the Indo-Pacific region, the two leaders agreed to boost collaboration under the Quad framework, which also includes the United States and India.
Releasing a joint statement, Kishida and Morison said the 2007 Japan-Australia security cooperation declaration will be updated to keep up with changes in the regional situation.
They further agreed to work together on the economic security front, including in such new fields as space and cyberspace and in the establishment of a resilient supply chain of strategically important goods.
The Japan-Australia RAA is the equivalent of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement, which governs US troops stationed in Japan, under a bilateral security treaty.
The RAA will facilitate mutual visits by the Japanese and Australian forces.
To conclude the pact, the two countries had tough negotiations over criminal procedures, with Australia concerned about Japan’s death penalty system because the Oceanian country does not have the system.
They finally agreed to give Japan the primary criminal jurisdiction over visiting Australian military personnel excluding those who committed crimes while on duty. The deal, thus, prevented the RAA from denying the Japanese judicial system.
“It’s a groundbreaking agreement that will raise the bilateral security cooperation up to the next stage,” Kishida said at the signing ceremony.
Tokyo and Canberra launched the RAA negotiations in 2014.
Japan has been stepping up its security cooperation with Australia, a quasi-ally, ahead of other like-minded countries.