Japan PM Yoshihide Suga says broad agreement reached on military pact with Australia

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TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday Japan and Australia had reached a broad agreement on their bilateral defence pact to facilitate more joint operations and exercises on each other’s soil.

The developments further strengthen the defence ties between the two U.S. allies, at a time when China is asserting its role in the region and the United States is going through a leadership transition.

The pact called the Reciprocal Access Agreement is a legal framework to allow their troops to visit each other’s countries and conduct training and joint operations.

Suga made the comments during a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who is visiting Tokyo.

It will be Japan’s first agreement covering foreign military presence in its territory since it signed a status of forces agreement in 1960 that allowed the United States to base warships, fighter jets and thousands of troops in and around Japan as part of a military alliance that Washington describes as the bedrock of regional security.

The countries have been negotiating the defence deal for six years and that agreement still needs to be ratified by lawmakers.

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