Abe strikes a delicate balance in Australia

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a meeting with members of Abbott's cabinet on national security at Parliament House in Canberra, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Thomas U. Berger, Boston University

Today, Japan finds itself in a remarkably difficult diplomatic and domestic political situation. While Japan continues to be secure from any existing external threat, the rise of a nuclear North Korea and an increasingly powerful and assertive China are creating major challenges for Japanese security policy. Read more…

Australia’s new region: the Indo-Pacific

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (centre), Minister for Defence Stephen Smith (left) and CDF General David Hurley hold a media conference inside a Hurcules military plane after the release of the 2013 Defence white paper in Canberra, Friday, May 3, 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Melissa Conley Tyler and Samantha Shearman, AIIA

With the release of the Defence White Paper 2013 on 3 May, Australia officially has a new region, the ‘Indo-Pacific’: a strategic arc ‘connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans through Southeast Asia’.

Given the long history of linking Australian foreign policy to the ‘Asia-Pacific’, this is a significant change in terminology. How did we get to this point and what are the implications? Read more…

Indonesia and Australia: the great power next door

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with Prime Minister Julia Gillard address the media at the Northern Territory Parliament House in Darwin on 3 July 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Hugh White, ANU

When a single unified state emerged as the successor to the Netherlands East Indies after 1945, Australia suddenly had a close neighbour that it would one day have to take seriously.

Indonesia’s huge population and territory gave it the potential to exercise real power in Australia’s immediate region, and hence shape Australia’s international environment profoundly, for good or ill.

Read more…

Why no investor–state arbitration in the Australia–Japan FTA?

Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australian Minister for Trade Andrew Robb lead bilateral negotiations in Tokyo on April 5, 2014. An FTA was concluded on 7 April, 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Luke Nottage, University of Sydney

Australia and Japan finally concluded a bilateral free trade agreement on 7 April 2014.

Some Australian media outlets had prior inklings that negotiations had achieved significant breakthroughs, especially for agricultural market access into Japan, but a frequent assumption was that Australia must have ‘given up’ something major in return. Read more…

Australia and Vietnam deepen their strategic relationship

Visiting Australian Governor General Quentin Alice Louise Bryce (R) shakes hands with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Hanoi on May 9, 2011.  (Photo: AAP)

Author: Le Hong Hiep, Vietnam National University

The first Australia–Vietnam Joint Foreign Affairs Defence Strategic Dialogue was held in Canberra on 21 February 2012.

While this is evidence of the increasing importance the two countries accord each other as regional partners, the dialogue is also a useful mechanism for Australia and Vietnam to boost mutual understanding and trust, and to deepen cooperation for common strategic interests, regional peace and stability. Read more…

Abbott pivots from enragement to engagement of Asia

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks at an address to the Asia Society of Australia in Canberra on 25 March 2014. The prime minister said that China, Japan and South Korea have decisively shifted the world centre of economic gravity. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott heads off on a major expedition at the end of this week in a make-or-break effort to unlock the opportunities of the Asian century for his country in Japan, South Korea and China. The mission includes a large delegation of businesspeople and state premiers as well as many of Australia’s top officials. It embraces Australia’s top-three export markets Read more…

Water management in Indonesia: lessons from Australia

Indonesian Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya (obscured-in boat) inspects the Ciliwung river in Jakarta on May 15, 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Erick Hansnata, University of Canberra

Environmental improvement is one of the key priorities of Indonesia’s latest National Medium Term Development Plan. The government has recently begun work to revitalise its 13 main river basins, which are categorised as heavily polluted.

However, the country continues to struggle to ensure access and quality of water. Read more…

The Abe and Abbott show: a meeting of minds and interests

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott at Parliament House in Canberra, 8 July 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Jim Rolfe, Victoria University of Wellington

The ANZUS Treaty was signed 63 years ago by Australia, New Zealand and the United States, in part as a counter to the US security treaty with Japan and the final peace agreement following the end of World War II. ANZUS then was intended to stand against any possible resurgence of Japanese military power in the Asia Pacific region. Read more…

Japan and Australia ‘beef up’ relations

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the National Security Council in Tokyo on 7 April 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

The Economic Partnership Agreement that Japan recently concluded with Australia (JAEPA) has everything to do with Japanese trade strategy and little if anything to do with agricultural reform.

Some of the commentary on the agreement has argued that JAEPA was the product of Abe’s reform agenda, but it is neither part of that agenda nor will it advance it. Read more…

Australia and Japan: Allies in the making

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (2nd L) is escorted by Jin Sato (L), mayor of the tsunami-devastated town of Minamisanriku, at the ruins of the three-storey anti-disaster centre in Miyagi prefecture on April 23, 2011. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Thomas Wilkins, University of Sydney

As a result of the 2007 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, Australia and Japan may now be considered close strategic partners.

Their interaction is reinforced and amplified by their formal military alliances with the United States, forming a triad through the Trilateral Security Dialogue (TSD). Read more…