Next week, I will travel to Japan for the annual talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The January 18 meeting will focus on regional security and generating greater opportunity through trade, economic growth and job creation.
This will be my first international engagement of the year and it reflects the importance of the bilateral relationship, particularly at a time when the region faces considerable challenges.
Australia and Japan both seek an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific underpinned by the rule of law, where countries foster dialogue and cooperation and we all reap the benefits of economic integration and connectivity.
In a period of strategic uncertainty, both countries recognise the need to deepen security ties. Prime Minister Abe and I are committed to strong defence cooperation through joint exercises, information sharing and defence industry collaboration. We are working to formalise this in our reciprocal access agreement that will further enhance our defence interoperability. We are trusted partners across a broad range of security interests such as cyber, counter-terrorism and disarmament, and there is the potential to collaborate further.
Prime Minister Abe and I will discuss the security challenges facing our region, including North Korea’s reckless and criminal behaviour. Japan is at the frontline of the North Korea nuclear threat. The international community, and particularly partners in Asia, must work together to maximise pressure on North Korea and effectively implement UN Security Council sanctions against the regime.
This year marks the third anniversary of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, a landmark deal that has unlocked billions of dollars for the Australian economy. Today, Japan is Australia’s second largest export market and our largest direct investor in Asia. We continue to expand economic cooperation in areas like LNG and hydrogen energy, with joint projects helping to lift two-way investment and safeguard our energy supply chains
Australia and Japan have long prospered from the free flow of goods, capital and ideas. That is why Prime Minister Abe and I will continue to champion trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which encourage openness and reward innovation.
I look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Abe and continuing to strengthen our Special Strategic Partnership.