Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in town on Saturday for talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, at his Kirribilli House residence in Sydney.
Trade, security and tourism were on the agenda in the closed door dialogue; but the two leaders were part of a larger delegation earlier today, which included New South Wales Mike Baird and Federal Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, along with business leaders, to discuss economic opportunities between the two nations.
“Australia very firmly believes that the TPP holds significant benefits for all twelve countries that have signed up to it, it is our earnest hope that we will continue to see the ratification of the TPP by all twelve countries” Ciobo said, addressing the members of the delegation and went on to stress Australia’s commitment to ensuring free trade is realised.
With all the focus on the economy and security, there were some who argued that Turnbull should have added to the agenda the current illegal whaling Japanese fishermen are conducting in Australian waters in the Southern Ocean.
Australian Greens Senator Nick McKim, said he rejects suggestions that Turnbull should avoid the delicate subject in order to protect the bilateral relationship, and wants Turnbull’s strong border stance extended to protecting Australia’s waters from illegal whalers.
“Mr Turnbull has again shown he does not have the courage to speak up for the magnificent marine creatures being illegally slaughtered by Japan. If Australia’s relationship with Japan is as strong as Mr Turnbull claims, it provides the perfect opportunity for disagreements to be raised and addressed.” McKim said.
“As for Mr Abe, he should ensure that the $1m Australian Federal Court fine is paid and show some respect to the ICJ decision.”
Earlier today, Japanese state media reported Abe had a few key talking points he was looking to discuss with Turnbull; including making the military pact between the two nations more robust, discussing freedom of navigation measures, and ensuring the Trans-Pacific Partnership comes into effect.
Both leaders held a joint press conference outside Kirribilli House after the meeting, where they reaffirmed their commitment to cooperation between their respective nations.
“The key focus of our discussions were strategic and economic, we’ve confirmed our commitment to the rule of law, free trade, and open markets in our region” Turnbull said, adding that “we have recommitted to creating, to consolidating…a 21st century relationship”.
Abe echoed his counterpart’s sentiments, saying the talks were meaningful and both nations have confirmed their intention to “maintain solid cooperation with the incoming Trump administration which will be taking office soon”.
Abe’s Australia visit is part of a week long Asian excursion that began in the Philippines with President Rodrigo Duterte, with the next stop being a planned meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, followed by an expected audience with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and President Tran Dai Quang.
Abe is expected back in Japan on Tuesday.
– Will Koulouris