Japan, Australia agree to step up security ties

The foreign and defense ministers of Japan and Australia have shared concerns about China's maritime activities and agreed to strengthen security ties.

The ministers held "two-plus-two" talks online on Wednesday. Japan's Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu and Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo discussed various issues with Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Peter Dutton.

At the beginning, Motegi said the international order is facing a major challenge as strategic competition continues to intensify in the Indo-Pacific region, due to unilateral attempts to change the status quo. He said that he wants to discuss ways for the two countries to increase their security and defense cooperation.

Kishi said united efforts are required more than ever by countries which share basic values and strategic interests. He said Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military need to evolve in order to contribute to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The ministers shared serious concerns about China's assertiveness in the East China and the South China seas.

The two countries also agreed on the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. They said that they will urge all parties to find a peaceful solution to the cross-Strait issues.

To further strengthen defense cooperation, Tokyo and Canberra confirmed that the Australian military will be added to the list of foreign military assets protected by the SDF under the Japanese security legislation that came into force in 2016.

In addition, the two countries agreed to speed up arrangements to sign a new agreement that will allow the SDF and the Australian military to conduct joint drills and to more efficiently provide disaster aid.