Australian Embassy

Strategic partnership

Japan is a special strategic partner to Australia and the partnership is fundamentally important to both countries' strategic and economic interests. The relationship is underpinned by a shared commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as common approaches to international security.

There have been three major phases in the development of the post-war Australia-Japan relationship:


Bilateral Relationship

Today, the warmth and broad scope of the bilateral relationship is articulated in our shared Partnership Agenda.

Australia and Japan have a strong and broad-ranging security relationship. Our two countries work very closely in conjunction with our common ally, the United States, and in critical regional partnerships with countries such as India and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Australia and Japan regularly participate in joint defence exercises and frequently consult on regional security issues, such as the nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches undertaken by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The renewed Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation (JDSC) issued by Prime Minister Albanese and Prime Minister Kishida in October 2022, deepened and expanded cooperation to respond to the most pressing security challenges in our region. The growth in security and defence cooperation included identifying ways to enhance interoperability, including through expanding existing military exercises and training.

Japan provided valuable support to Australia during the 2019-20 Australian bushfire response, including two Hercules aircraft to transport military and civilian personnel, protective masks, and over AUD5 million in cash donations. Similarly, Australia had provided extensive assistance to Japan following the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, including specialised personnel and equipment, defence aircraft, and a donation of AUD10 million.

Australia and Japan hold regular '2+2' talks between foreign and defence ministers. At the tenth 2+2 meeting on 9 December 2022, Ministers reaffirmed the ambitious vision set at the October 2022 Leaders’ Meeting, including in the Joint Statement and the Japan-Australia JDSC. Discussions between ministers focused on expanding and deepening bilateral cooperation in line with the JDSC, including around security, defence, science and technology, economic security, cyber, space, information sharing, and efforts in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Australia and Japan, together with the United States and India, are members of the Quad. The Quad has a positive practical agenda focused on supporting an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region. Prime Minister Albanese hosted Prime Minister Kishida, Prime Minister Modi and President Biden in Hiroshima on 19-21 May 2023 for the third in-person Quad Leader’s Summit, on the sidelines of the G7 Leader’s Summit. The Summit further deepened the Quad’s cooperation, demonstrated the positive and practical action being taken to address regional challenges, and sent a strong message of commitment to delivering for the region, addressing shared regional challenges, and following through on the Quad’s commitments.  

Australia and Japan have jointly led efforts in support of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, including as co-founders of the cross-regional Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) established in 2010. Australia and Japan are also co-Chairs of the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) group.

Australia and Japan are also founding members (alongside the US) of the Trilateral Infrastructure Partnership (TIP), which promotes sustainable infrastructure development and is focused on mobilising private investment in regional infrastructure. In October 2020, the three countries announced the first project under the partnership – an undersea fibre optic cable to Palau. Since then, Australia has worked trilaterally with Japan and the United States to support other infrastructure initiatives, such as the East Micronesia Cable and Telstra’s acquisition of Digicel Pacific. Members of the TIP renewed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region in October 2022, which included an emphasis on working on infrastructure in concert with the Quad.

Australia and Japan work together to maintain the stability, resilience and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region. Together, we are supporting our neighbours in the Pacific and Southeast Asia respond to and recover from COVID-19, including through the supply of vaccines. Our 2011 Memorandum of Understanding on International Development Cooperation facilitates information exchange and cooperation in sectors such as education, health, food security and infrastructure. The 2022 2+2 meeting reinforced our respective enhanced approaches to Southeast Asia, and working together towards mutually decided priorities with ASEAN and Southeast Asian partners, including economic development, security cooperation and the energy transition. In 2016, we agreed to a Strategy for Cooperation in the Pacific. The Strategy outlines four areas for cooperation: effective governance, economic growth and sustainable development, security and defence cooperation, and diplomatic initiatives. The 2022 Leaders’ Statement articulated Australia and Japan pursuing the expansion of effective cooperation with other partners, including through the Partners in the Blue Pacific, on key areas of importance for the Pacific such as critical infrastructure, disaster recovery and resilience, and maritime security. Leaders also affirmed their commitment to take significant action on climate change.

Australia and Japan are close partners in regional forums such as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the East Asia Summit (EAS) the G20, and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Australia supports Japan's aspiration to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Our 2011 Memorandum of Understanding on international development cooperation facilitates information exchange and cooperation in sectors such as education, health, food security and infrastructure. In 2016, we agreed to a 'Strategy for Cooperation in the Pacific.' The Strategy outlined four areas for cooperation: effective governance, economic growth and sustainable development, security and defence cooperation, and diplomatic initiatives.