Australian Embassy

Remarks by Ambassador Hayhurst - Australia-Japan Space Situational Awareness, Satellite Communications, and Autonomous Systems Symposium

27 November




Distinguished guests, esteemed colleagues, and friends, good morning.

I am pleased to be with you at today’s symposium.

I acknowledge the Assistant Commissioner of ATLA, Mr. Nishiwaki.

I also acknowledge Dr. Yamakawa, President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Association.

Australia and Japan share a vision for peace and stability in our region based on rules that are clear, mutually negotiated and consistently followed, whether those rules govern trade or the maritime domain, the environment or military engagement.

And we are resolved to act individually, in partnership and with others to uphold that rules-based foundation for the Indo-Pacific.

The Australia-Japan Special Strategic Partnership is characterised by an ambitious agenda of engagement and collaboration, based on that strong strategic alignment.

Building on Australia’s commitment to Japan’s energy security, our economic ties are transitioning to a focus on clean energy, technology, innovation, and infrastructure investment. 

At a regional and global level, we stand up for freedom of navigation and overflight, action on climate change, and for the economic and connectivity interests of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

In Defence, our nations are breaking new ground.

With a landmark Reciprocal Access Agreement supporting greater joint training and exercising, helping our nations to deter aggression and respond to natural disasters.

And we are expanding the scope of that partnership by developing opportunities in the space and autonomous systems domains.

These areas are at the cutting edge of technological progress in the civilian sphere but are also critical for our national security strategies.

Space capabilities enhance our defence systems; and they are critical to robust and resilient civilian communication networks, navigation systems, and surveillance capabilities.

With Japan and others, Australia is grappling with the challenges and opportunities presented by the evolution of autonomous systems technologies in defence.

 Artificial intelligence and robotics systems offer advantages in operational efficiency, risk reduction for personnel, and enhanced capabilities in complex environments.

We want to work with Japan and like-minded partners in these domains to improve our defence and deterrence postures.

And we do this in a strategic environment characterised by risk and disruption.

In Australia’s assessment, the international order is being reshaped, and the stability of the Indo-Pacific region can no longer be assumed.

Australia and Japan both know there is a competition underway over power, values, rules, supply chains, and the technologies that link countries and economies. 

In response, the Australia-Japan defence relationship has emerged as a cornerstone of continued alignment and stability.

Australia and Japan share an interest both in the balance of power and in the principles by which power is exercised, so we can create an open regional order that has China prominent but not dominant.

To that end, Australia and Japan are implementing our 2022 Joint Security Declaration and its commitments to an open, secure maritime domain, to international rules, and to deterring aggression.

Under the Joint Declaration we have moved from a focus on dialogue and exchange to strategic coordination and delivering deeper operational, industrial, and technological cooperation.

This evolution reflects growing strategic trust between us.

The landmark RAA I mentioned earlier enables deeper, more complex, and more sophisticated cooperation between the Australian Defence Force and the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

It facilitated, this year, the first ever international deployment of Japanese F-35s outside of Japan, to the Northern Territory, and Australia’s first deployment of F-35s to Japan for the 2023 iteration of Exercise BUSHIDO GUARDIAN.

Building on this, at the Defence Ministers’ Meeting in October, our Ministers discussed deepening cooperation in defence equipment and technology, space and cyber, and integrated air and missile defence.

Australia and Japan are also working in these areas trilaterally with the United States.

Although not a Defence platform, I also mention the Quad, through which our nations advance mutual strategic interests.

At the Quad leaders’ summit in May, leaders announced new cooperation on space.

They outlined their intention to share expertise and experience in space situational awareness, as well as a commitment to consult on rules, norms, guidelines, and principles to ensure the sustainable use of outer space.

These various mechanisms for cooperation, both bilaterally, trilaterally, in the Quad and beyond, are crucial to our shared ambition for a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific.

Against this background of growing partnerships, it will be important for Australia and Japan to better integrate defence industries.

By working together, and having greater confidence in each other’s information security practices, Australia and Japan can leverage our respective strengths to develop the cutting-edge defence technologies and systems required by our defence forces.

Australian and Japanese government and industry-defence collaboration must address broad, cross-cutting, cross-boundary space and autonomy challenges.

We need innovative, cost-effective solutions that maximise opportunities for industry participation – and grow a strong, sustainable, and secure defence industry.

By pooling our expertise and capabilities, we can accelerate the development of critical technologies and achieve scale.

Such collaboration fosters innovation, ensures interoperability between our defence forces, and enhances our self-reliance in defence capabilities.

It will also create jobs and economic activity.

To foster such collaboration Australia is investing in research and development, providing clear and consistent policies, and ensuring secure and sustainable supply chains for defence materials and technologies.

As we look to the future, our vision should be one of continued partnership and progress between Australia and Japan.

To leverage our respective national strengths, our collaboration should foster a culture of exchange and learning between our defence forces and industries.

I look forward to the coming presentations and, importantly, to hearing the perspectives and insights of our Japanese guests on these important issues.   

With that, I now hand back to our master of ceremonies, Captain Josh Wilkinson.

Thank you.