1. The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne, and the Australian Minister for Defence, Mr Christopher Pyne, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mr Taro Kono, and the Minister of Defense of Japan, Mr Takeshi Iwaya, met in Sydney on 10 October 2018 for the Eighth Japan-Australia 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations.

2. The Ministers welcomed the closer engagement between Australia and Japan since the Seventh 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations, including visits to Japan by the Australian Prime Minister and by the Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister in January and July 2018 respectively. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to further deepening the Special Strategic Partnership between the two countries, founded on common strategic interests and shared values including a commitment to democracy, human rights, free trade and the rules-based international order.

(Indo-Pacific)

3. The Ministers reaffirmed that Australia and Japan shared elements of their strategic visions for the Indo-Pacific region. They reiterated their determination to work proactively together, and together with the United States and other partners in order to maintain and promote a free, open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region founded on the rules-based international order.

4. The Ministers recognised the importance of a stable and secure regional maritime order, including through enhanced maritime security cooperation. They reaffirmed their commitment to further enhancing bilateral and Japan-Australia-United States trilateral maritime security cooperation, in particular capacity building in the field of maritime law enforcement and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Southeast Asia as well as Pacific Island Countries through close consultation with those countries.

5. The Ministers highlighted the importance of enhancing connectivity in this region for economic prosperity through the development of quality infrastructure in accordance with international standards that are open, transparent, non-exclusive and sustainable, and which promotes fair and open competition and meets genuine needs. They affirmed commitment to advancing this agenda bilaterally and through the Japan-Australia-United States trilateral partnership for infrastructure investment in the Indo-Pacific region. The Ministers also shared the importance of debt sustainability, including debt transparency, for sustainable development and sovereignty, and reiterated their concern about increases in foreign debt. In this regard, the Ministers called for a wider adherence to and respect for international standards in this area.

6. The Ministers reaffirmed their determination to pursue deeper and broader defence cooperation, including exercises, operations, capacity building, enhanced navy, army, and air force engagement activities and strategic visits, trilateral cooperation with the United States, and further cooperation on defence equipment, science and technology. They identified a suite of new initiatives to further enhance bilateral defence engagement. These initiatives cover a commitment to increasing the complexity and sophistication of military exercises, focusing on deepening mutual understanding of operational planning and enhancing interoperability between our defence forces. The Ministers determined to explore opportunities to conduct broader areas of bilateral/multilateral training and exercises involving the Australian Defence Force and Japan Self-Defense Forces, including in areas such as disaster response, anti-submarine warfare, and mine counter measures. The Ministers also  affirmed the commitment to pursuing the rescheduling of the first-ever fighter jet exercise "BUSHIDO GUARDIAN" to an appropriate time in 2019, and to seeking an opportunity for bilateral or multilateral training or exercises in Australia involving the Royal Australian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

7. The Ministers welcomed the recent progress in the negotiations on the Reciprocal Access Agreement, which will reciprocally improve administrative, policy, and legal procedures to facilitate joint operations and exercises. The Ministers reaffirmed strong commitment to conclude the negotiations as early as feasible.

8. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of their respective alliances with the United States, which are fundamental to each country’s security and underpin broader regional stability and prosperity. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the United States’ commitment to the Indo-Pacific and the implementation of the Force Posture Initiatives. They reaffirmed their strong commitment to further enhancing trilateral cooperation, including through the Trilateral Summit Meeting, Trilateral Strategic Dialogue and Trilateral Defence Ministers’ Meeting to ensure the peaceful, stable and prosperous future of the Indo-Pacific region.

9. The Ministers reaffirmed their intention to further develop trilateral cooperation and coordination among Japan, Australia and India. They also welcomed the progress in cooperation among Japan, Australia, India and the United States.

(Regional and International issues)

10. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the goal of the international community for North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction as well as ballistic missiles in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs). They welcomed the ongoing diplomatic engagements including those between North Korea and each of the Republic of Korea and the United States, as steps toward the comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues regarding North Korea. They also expressed support for efforts by the United States towards the denuclearisation of North Korea in compliance with the relevant UNSCRs.

11. The Ministers reconfirmed that it is critical for all United Nations Member States to continue to implement their obligations fully under relevant UNSCRs. They reaffirmed their commitment to cooperating to that end, including through surveillance of suspicious maritime activities including illicit ship-to-ship transfers involving North Korean-flagged vessels. The Ministers of Japan welcomed Australia’s deployment of maritime patrol aircraft to that end. The Ministers agreed that the cap on the importation of refined petroleum products for 2018 imposed by UNSCR 2397 (2017) had been breached. They called on North Korea to end its human rights violations and immediately resolve the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea.

12. The Ministers remained seriously concerned about the situation in the South China Sea (SCS).  They reaffirmed the importance of upholding the rules-based regional and international order, respect for international law, freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded trade. The Ministers also expressed their opposition to the use of disputed features for military purposes, urging all parties to pursue the demilitarisation of such features. They emphasised the importance of self-restraint and their opposition to any actions that could escalate tensions in the region. They urged relevant states to make and clarify territorial and maritime claims based on international law and to resolve disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Ministers acknowledged the recent movement towards a Code of Conduct (COC) for the SCS and supported the conclusion of negotiations for an effective COC. They called for the COC to be: consistent with existing international law, as reflected in UNCLOS; not to prejudice the interests of the non-parties to the COC or the rights of all states under international law; to reinforce existing regional architecture; and to strengthen Parties’ commitments to cease actions that would complicate or escalate disputes.

13. The Ministers shared the intention to remain in close communication about the situation in the East China Sea and expressed opposition to any coercive unilateral actions that seek to alter the status quo or increase tensions in the area.

14. The Ministers resolved to further enhance their engagement with ASEAN and noted the achievements of ASEAN in fostering peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.  They reaffirmed their strong support for ASEAN centrality and unity and acknowledged the role of ASEAN as the convener of the regional security architecture. The Ministers underlined the value of the East Asia Summit (EAS) as the regions’ premier leaders-led forum for addressing political-security challenges. The Ministers also welcomed the continued contributions of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-plus).

15. The Ministers expressed their commitment to enhancing cooperation between Australia and Japan to support economic and social resilience, stability and prosperity in the Pacific, in close consultation with the Pacific Island Countries. They welcomed the success of the Eighth Pacific Island Leaders Meeting (PALM8) held in May 2018 and Japan’s commitment to the region announced there. The Ministers of Japan welcomed Australia’s enhanced engagement in the Pacific in line with its 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

16. The Ministers reasserted the importance of a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship with China through dialogue, cooperation and engagement.

17. The Ministers stressed the importance of a free and open, rules-based trading system for global stability and prosperity. In this regard, they shared the determination to coordinate closely and exercise leadership towards an early entry into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and swift conclusion of a high-quality Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that would promote closer regional economic integration. The Ministers recognised the importance of working together to improve the functioning of the World Trade Organization so that it can address the challenges facing the multilateral trading system and benefit individuals and businesses throughout the region and the world. The Ministers reaffirmed support for global trade liberalisation and their commitment to resisting protectionism, including all unfair trade practices.

18. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to an open, free, fair and secure cyberspace and to further strengthening cooperation in this area.

19. The Ministers underlined the crucial importance of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the success of the 2020 NPT Review Conference. The Ministers reaffirmed their determination to continue cooperation towards a world free of nuclear weapons, through efforts on nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy including through the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI). The Ministers reaffirmed their determination to keep urging all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) without further delay towards its early entry into force and universalisation, in particular the remaining eight Annex 2 states, and including North Korea as a matter of priority. The Ministers also reiterated the importance of reinforcement of the CTBT’s verification regime.

20. The Ministers reaffirmed their determination to further cooperate in areas such as counter-terrorism.

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