Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison address the media after bilateral talks at Northern Territory Parliament House in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, Friday, November 16, 2018. Mr Abe is in Darwin with wife Akie visiting Australia on an official two day visit to discuss bilateral and international issues with Australian officials. (AAP Image/Michael Franchi)

Joint Press Statement with his Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

16 Nov 2018
Darwin, NT
Prime Minister

Photo: AAP Image/Michael Franchi

PRIME MINISTER: Well to Prime Minister Abe and your delegation, can I thank you very much for coming to Australia and in particular coming here to Darwin, for what has been a very deeply symbolic and significant meeting and also visit - the first by a Japanese Prime Minister to Darwin.

Can I thank you very much for the grace and the humility and the sincerity with which you have come to us today. I know it has been well received by the Australian people. We thank you both personally for the way you have done this, but equally we thank you on behalf of our country, to yours. We acknowledge our history and we commemorate our sacrifice and loss today, but importantly, we have further strengthened our great relationship as good friends and great partners; a special, strategic relationship based not only on our deep shared values and interests, but our deeply held beliefs.

As modern economies, Japan and Australia, we stand for openness and free trade. We stand for democracy and we stand firm against protectionism. Our continued success depends on being open to trade and investment. We understand that this is critical to the prosperity of our peoples and of the region in which we live. That's why Australia and Japan have been the driving forces behind the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TPP-11 trade agreement and I particular want to thank you Prime Minister Abe, for your strong leadership together with the former Prime Minister Mr Turnbull and the former Prime Minister of New Zealand Mr Key, who enabled us to initiate the TPP-11 proceeding and achieving it’s great result.

Can I also say that I appreciate the strong trade and investment relationship that is underpinned by the Australia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, the most liberalising trade agreement Japan has ever negotiated and implemented. Japanese investment in Australian resources and energy projects have helped create entire communities, have supported tens of thousands of employees, inspired new technology and generated billions of dollars per our two economies.

Japan is Australia's largest export market and the world's largest importer of liquefied natural gas and Australia supplies almost one third of Japan's total LNG imports. INPEX’s Icthys LNG project is Japan's largest ever investment in Australia and it is an outstanding example of the scale of our cooperation and of our ambition.

We are working together also throughout our region to support better infrastructure and greater connectivity between independent sovereign states throughout our region, throughout the Indo Pacific. On 12 November, Australia, the United States and Japan signed an MoU to support trilateral cooperation in the Indo Pacific region. This will greatly assist - as we discussed today - furthering our investment and infrastructure support within the south west Pacific, including the recent step-up programme that I announced just last week.

Australia and Japan remain committed to maintaining pressure also, I stress, to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea. A stable and secure regional maritime order is central to both Australia and Japan's visions for the region and is underpinned by respect for international law. To that end, I particularly welcome the visit to Darwin by the Japanese coastguard patrol vessel Echigo. I look forward to increased cooperation with Japan to support regional maritime safety and security.

Australia and Japan also stand united on the importance of resolving disputes in the South China Sea peacefully and in accordance with international law. We are strongly opposed to any actions that could increase tensions within the region.

We also welcome expansion of collaboration to create new opportunities in areas such as healthcare, artificial intelligence and smart cities under a bilateral innovation framework. Australia and Japan are now collaborating on new energy sources to complement our already strong energy partnership, through our hydrogen energy supply chain pilot. I also note that Australia hopes to deliver that power to Japan's ambitions for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and to develop a hydrogen export industry that could support as many as 16,000 jobs in Australia by 2040.

Finally, this year marks the 30th anniversary of Questacon, Japan's 1988 bicentennial gift to Australia and a great symbol of our friendship. I’m pleased to announce Australia has gifted three Questacon exhibitions to Japanese museums that participated in Questacon’s Science Circus of Japan this year. I hope this gift inspires future generations of scientists.

So I thank you Prime Minister and I warmly welcome you here and Mrs Abe.

I look forward to your comments.

HIS EXCELLENCY SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN – TRANSLATION: It is a great pleasure for me to be visiting Darwin for the first time as the Prime Minister of Japan. I am most happy that Prime Minister Morrison and I were able to have our first meeting here. Darwin was once a place where the former Japanese forces conducted their first air bombing against Australia, leading to much sacrifice. Prior to the meeting, Prime Minister Morrison and I laid a wreath at the War Memorial. I extended my condolences in honour of all the fallen soldiers and renewed my vow towards peace.

Thanks to the devoted efforts of many, Japan and Australia have achieved reconciliation and have become special strategic partners, driving regional peace and prosperity. Darwin is the next step and connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is a crucial place for the stability and prosperity of the whole of the Indo Pacific. It is at this very place where Prime Minister Morrison and I confirmed our commitment to further deepen this special strategic partnership between Japan and Australia in pursuit of our common vision of a free and open Indo Pacific.

In the area of security we agreed to deepen our security and defence cooperation. The Self-Defence Force and the Australian Defence Force are engaged in joint exercises and disaster relief operations in Darwin and other places in our two countries. During our meeting, we had discussions on the agreement to further facilitate such activities and welcomed the tremendous progress made to date in the negotiations and agree to aim for conclusion early next year.

Today, a patrol vessel of the Japan Coast Guard is calling on the port here for the first time. Maritime safety authorities exchanged statements of cooperation and likewise, Japan and Australia will promote cooperation to strengthen the rule of law at sea.

We discussed regional situations including North Korea, South East Asia and the Pacific Island nations. On South East Asia and the Pacific Island nations, we agree to promote concrete projects for cooperation in maritime security capacity-building related assistance and a strengthening of connectivity. On North Korea, we agreed on the importance of the realisation of complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantling of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges as explicitly indicated in the UNSC resolutions and the complete implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions. I expressed my appreciation to the Prime Minister for sending Australian aircraft and vessels in response to ship to ship transfers. We confirmed that Japan and Australia will continue to cooperate in this area. Prime Minister Morrison also provided his support toward the early resolution of the abduction issue.

In the economic area, production has begun under one of the largest FDI projects in history by a Japanese company, the Icthys LNG project. We welcome the launch of operations in this project which can be described as a symbol of the deep interdependency between Japan and Australia and are ready to show more cooperation in the energy area. We agree to cooperate in such areas as brown coal to hydrogen, Quasi-Zenith Satellite, agriculture and fisheries as well as quality infrastructure in third countries to spur economic cooperation in even more diverse fields.

We welcome Australia's completion of its domestic procedures for TPP-11 and entry into force by the end of the year. We confirmed to collaborate to maintain and strengthen a free, open and rules-based multilateral trading system through the early conclusion of the RCEP and other initiatives.

Lastly I would like to thank the people of the Northern Territory for welcoming us with heart-warming hospitality.

Thank you.