Japan-Australia in the Indo-Pacific: 12 Month Outlook

On January 6th, 2022, Japan and Australia signed a reciprocal access agreement (RAA). The agreement established further alliances on trade, foreign policy, and security in the Indo-Pacific. Specifically, the RAA facilitates the cooperation between the Self-Defence Forces of Japan and the Australian Defence Forces. As such, Japan-Australia relations in the Indo-Pacific are integral to security within the region.

Indeed, the agreement represents a strategic message in a context where China is aggressively rising in the East and the South China Sea. Notably, China is interested in reunifying Taiwan as an economic advantage in the Indo-Pacific. To avoid this escalation, Japan is trying to sign a similar agreement with the United Kingdom. These cooperations will widen the strategic stronghold of Japan in the Indo-Pacific. In the next 12 months, Japan-Australia cooperation will stabilise the Indo-Pacific.

Key Judgement 1: In the next 12 months, Japan-Australia cooperation will likely make the Indo-Pacific secure and stable. 

  • PM Kishida and PM Morrison are trying to ensure stability across the Taiwan Strait to avoid military confrontation between China and Taiwan.
  • Australia contributes to Japan’s air policing effort against China, as China increases its air presence in the East and the South China Sea.
  • Japan-Australia cooperation points to decreasing the threats coming from China as one of the most important actors in the Indo-Pacific.

Key Judgement 2: In the next 12 months, China will likely make a move over Taiwan to challenge Japan-Australia cooperation. 

  • China considers Taiwan a breakaway province. Indeed, Beijing has consistently claimed Taiwan as a part of China. 

  • As a result, China is trying to reunify Taiwan to strengthen economic ties and obtain more strategic capabilities in the Indo-Pacific. This aligns with China’s wider geopolitical objectives.

  • Moreover, China is trying to expand its power over Southeast Asia for example, Thailand and Vietnam. Specifically, China seeks economic influence, geopolitical legitimacy, and maritime claims. These aims form the main motives for China’s expansionism. 

Key Judgement 3: In the next 12 months, Japan-Australia will highly likely sign a similar pact with the United Kingdom. 

  • Since 2018, the United Kingdom has supported Japan in the Indo-Pacific. Indeed, the UK provides maritime back-up to Japan under the Maritime Security Agreement between the Royal Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Forces (JMSDF).

  • In September 2021, the UK joined the security alliance between the US and Australia. As a result, Britain will provide Australia with technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines.

  • Japan and the UK have already started formal negotiations on a reciprocal access agreement (RAA) at the end of September 2021. Firm talks between the two countries occurred in May 2022, with an agreement in principle reached. This is highly likely to be ratified within the next 12 months.

Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 10th May 2022

Bianca Bonardi
Bianca Bonardi
Bianca is a graduate student in Criminology at Goldsmiths College of London. She recently finished her post-graduate studies in Terrorism and Security at King's College of London. Her research is mainly focused on Middle East issues and International Terrorist threats.

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