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Japan nears defense access deal with quasi-ally Australia next year

Agreement would smooth way for joint drills as China flexes muscle

Japanese and Australian ships engage in a joint naval exercise in this photo provided by the Maritime Self-Defense Force.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- Japan and Australia are preparing to sign a long-debated pact next year that would make it easier for each country's forces to enter the other for joint exercises, Nikkei has learned.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government aims to conclude the reciprocal access agreement soon and bring it before parliament for approval as early as next year's regular session.

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