Australia, United States to invite Japan into three-way military exercises

Australia and Japan agreed in October to boost their security ties in response to a more assertive China.
Stephen Wright
2022.12.06
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Australia, United States to invite Japan into three-way military exercises Australia’s Minister of Defense Richard Marles, Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Penny Wong and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L-R) listen as U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks at a press conference in Washington D.C. on Dec. 6, 2022.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The United States and Australia said they will invite Japan to participate in joint military exercises in Australia that are part of broader U.S. efforts to curb China’s influence in the region.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held annual consultations on Tuesday in Washington with Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defense Minister Richard Marles.

At a news conference, Austin said they had agreed to increase rotational deployments in Australia of U.S. air force bombers and fighters, naval vessels and soldiers, a commitment the countries also made at the Australia-U.S. ministerial talks a year ago. The two countries are also aiming for greater integration between their defense industries, the officials said.

"China's dangerous and coercive actions throughout the Indo-Pacific, including around Taiwan, toward the Pacific island countries and in the East and South China Seas, threaten regional peace and stability," Austin said.

Wong and Marles will travel to Japan later this week. Marles said that being able to invite Japan into three-way defense cooperation on Australian territory was a “great outcome” of the U.S.-Australia meeting.

In October, Japan and Australia agreed to deepen their security relationship, allowing Japanese self-defense forces to train in Australia and greater sharing of intelligence, as both countries respond to a more assertive China.

China’s claim to the entirety of the South China Sea, a busy global shipping route, and its forays into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), along with increased military spending have contributed to heightened tensions in East Asia for several years.

More recently, Beijing’s burgeoning influence with small island nations in the Pacific has also concerned the United States and allies such as Australia.

China’s annual military spending will reach U.S.$230 billion this year compared with $60 billion in 2008, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which cites official Chinese government figures. U.S. military spending was nearly $770 billion in 2021.

The United States and the United Kingdom last year agreed to help equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines by the mid-2030s under an agreement known as AUKUS. 

Austin said work since then has focused on designing a process that will allow Australia to build the submarines as quickly as possible.

“We recognize where Australia is and when its capability begins to diminish and of course we will address all of that in that pathway that we create,” he said. “We will not allow Australia to have a capability gap.” 

BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated news service.

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