Brisbane, Nov 14: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday he wanted deeper defence ties with the United States and Australia to ensure peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region, in remarks likely to irk Beijing.
Abe outlined his vision for expanded military cooperation ahead of this weekend's Group of 20 leaders' summit, which is being hosted in Brisbane by Japan's "best friend" Australia.
"As the United States is the most important ally for Japan and Australia, I am determined to expand trilateral cooperation between the three countries, to realise a peaceful, secure and prosperous future for the Asia-Pacific region," he said in an op-ed article for the Australian Financial Review.
"I also hope that our countries will work closely together to support the resolution of global issues." Abe is expected to take part in a three-way meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
The prospect of a stronger tripartite alliance could stoke fears in Beijing that Japan, the United States and Australia are ganging up to limit China's increasingly assertive expansion in the region. China claims rights over Tokyo-administered islands in the East China Sea, with several other countries in the region also at loggerheads with Beijing over territorial disputes.
Abe: I also hope that our countries will work closely together
Beijing has repeatedly warned of what it says is the danger of Japan "remilitarising" under Abe, and regularly lambasts Tokyo for its apparent lack of repentance for past misdeeds.
Abe visited Australia in July and became the first Japanese leader to address the national parliament in Canberra, also sealing a deal on the sharing of defence technology during the trip. Abbott has denied closer defence ties with Japan will damage relations with China, his country's biggest trading partner.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told the Financial Review that Beijing was also ready to increase defence cooperation with Australia, "The Chinese side stands ready to work with the Australian side to strengthen communication and coordination in international and regional mechanisms and deal with traditional and non-traditional security issues of all kinds to jointly safeguard and promote peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and beyond," he wrote.