Tuesday 24 May 2022 | 05:50 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 24 May 2022 | 05:50 | SYDNEY

Rudd in Japan: Credit where credit is due


Andrew Shearer

13 June 2008 15:51

I have been among the critics of the Rudd Government’s handling of Australia’s vitally important partnership with Japan, so it is only fair to acknowledge good news when it occurs.

The joint declaration Mr Rudd and his Japanese counterpart, Yasuo Fukuda, released after their discussions contained some important statements (along with the usual swathes of motherhood unavoidable in such a document). The two prime ministers emphasised that the relationship is underpinned by shared democratic values as well as common interests. They reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral relationship and committed themselves to strengthening the strategic and economic partnership. Delivering one of the key elements of the 2007 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, they committed themselves to holding the inaugural round of ‘2-2’ foreign and defence minister talks in November and to taking forward bilateral defence and intelligence cooperation. They reaffirmed their commitment to working towards a free trade agreement (although not in language conveying much hope of rapid progress). Importantly, they also agreed to take forward trilateral strategic cooperation with the US, including in disaster relief (somewhat ironic given this was also the topic of the first round of the abandoned quadrilateral dialogue).

This is a good start to restoring proper balance to the handling of one of our most important and sensitive strategic relationships. It’s just a shame the self-inflicted distractions the Government created over whaling and its quixotic quest for an Asia-Pacific community ended up drowning out the substance of Rudd’s visit.