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Australia-US-Japan Joint Statement predicts new trilateral RDT&E agreement

The Trilateral Defense Ministerial Meeting between the defence ministers of Australia, the United States and Japan during last week’s Shangri-La Dialogue trailed a future trilateral Research Development Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) agreement between the three partners “at the earliest opportunity”.

And a bilateral RDT&E agreement between Japan and Australia under last October’s Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation (JDSC) would be an enduring framework to streamline and elevate cooperation, said Australian Minister for Defence Richard Marles and Japanese Minister of Defense Hamada Yasukazu.

The trilateral Joint Statement by the Australian and Japanese Ministers and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also said the three countries would “Boost strategic capabilities cooperation across multiple domains, including in integrated air and missile defence (IAMD), intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and undersea warfare.”

“Recognizing the important role the trilateral partnership plays in boosting regional stability, the Ministers committed to continue to take concrete and practical measures to improve interoperability and deepen defense cooperation across the spectrum” said the statement. “They reinforced the importance of consulting with each other and developing coordinated responses to regional disasters and crises.

The Ministers also noted the significance of the introduction of counterstrike capabilities by Japan and investment in long-range strike capabilities by Australia. They confirmed in the statement that Australia and Japan would work closely together, and with the United States, as these capabilities are introduced.

Importantly, the Ministers welcomed the recent announcement of Australia’s pathway to acquire conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines. Japan reiterated its consistent support for AUKUS; while not expected to be an addition to AUKUS, a tripartite RDT&E agreement would probably focus on many of he advanced capabilities listed under AUKUS Pillar 2.

This meeting was the twelfth meeting of the three countries’ defence ministers and took place during the 20thInternational Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit in Singapore, more commonly known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.

In their Joint statement the three ministers expressed serious concern about the increasingly severe security environment in the East China Sea and strongly opposed any destabilizing and coercive unilateral actions that may escalate tensions in the East China Sea. They also emphasized the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encouraged the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.

The bilateral Japan-Australia relationship was boosted by the JDSC and the two countries’ defence ministers “noted the progress on the ambitious bilateral agenda since the 9 December 2022 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations, in particular the successful expansion of air-to-air refuelling pairings between the Japan Air Self Defense Force and Royal Australian Air Force aircraft, cyber collaboration under NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence exercise Locked Shields in April, and enhanced cooperation on strategic capabilities, including long-range guided

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