Australia-Japan could deepen military ties with cooperation on new subs

AUSTRALIA and Japan could deepen defence ties by co-operating on Australia’s next generation of submarines, a think tank says.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) says Japan’s expertise in building submarines suited to Pacific operations could be of interest to Australia as it looks to replace its six Collins boats.

Australia and Japan could also co-operate on ballistic missile defence, with Japan already fielding SM-3 missiles on its Kongo-class warships – a capability Australia is considering for its air warfare destroyers.

“In particular, Japan and Australia could increase their defence industry co-operation and ease export controls, a move that Japan has recently taken with the United Kingdom,” ASPI says in a paper released on Monday.

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Australia’s Bob Carr wants better Japan-South Korea relations

Australia wants Japan and South Korea to resolve recent disputes between them in the interests of enhanced regional security, Foreign Minister Bob Carr says.

He met with Japan’s new Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Sydney on Sunday, with security in the Asia-Pacific region high on the agenda, particularly following a recent missile launch by North Korea.

Complicating matters and causing concern in the United States is a falling out between Japan and South Korea over a territorial dispute and Japan’s attitude toward its colonial past.

Senator Carr told reporters he and Mr Kishida had discussed Australia’s new role on the United Nations Security Council and the missile launch.

‘We hope to be able to work closely with Japan when it comes to shaping a response on the Security Council to that unsatisfactory and illegal behaviour by North Korea,’ he said.

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WikiLeaks show Australia and Japan in secret talks on whaling deal

Fairfax newspapers say documents obtained by WikiLeaks show Mr Garrett’s former chief of staff, David Williams, told the US Australia could accept a deal.

The agreement would have overturned the ban on commercial whaling, in return for Japan reducing its so-called scientific research program.

The deal had the backing of New Zealand and the US in the lead-up to International Whaling Commission talks in the middle of last year.

The documents also show Mr Garrett believed he was more committed to ending whaling than the Australian Government officials who were negotiating with Japan.

Mr Garrett’s office has been contacted for comment.

The latest US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks also show Japanese and US officials discussed ways of reining in the militant anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd.

Sea Shepherd has been successful in hampering Japanese whalers during the annual Antarctic hunt.

The cables reveal the US envoy to the International Whaling Commission, Monica Medina, held talks with the head of Japan’s fisheries agency, Katsuhiro Machida, in late 2009.

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Australia commits to rare earths supply to Japan

Australia promised on Tuesday to be a future long-tem supplier of rare earths to Japan, after China suspended shipments of the minerals to its neighbor.

After Japan’s Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara raised the issue during strategic and trade talks in Canberra, Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd hinted rare earths would likely form part of a free trade pact being negotiated with Tokyo.

"The Australian government understands the significance of rare earths globally. Australia stands ready to be a long term, secure, reliable supplier of rare earths to the Japanese economy," Rudd told reporters in a news conference with Maehara.

For the past two months, China had suspended shipments to Japan of rare earths, crucial minerals for many high-tech products, due to a spat over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Japan is the world’s fourth biggest user of the minerals.

Maehara, on his first bilateral visit overseas, said he was making Japanese access to rare earths, and security of resource supplies generally, one of his top foreign policy priorities.

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