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International relations

Japan, Australia to hold '2-plus-2' security talks in Tokyo

Ministers will discuss military buildups by China, North Korea next week

The foreign and defense ministers of Japan and Australia will meet in Tokyo on Dec. 9 in their first "two-plus-two" talks since October 2018.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The defense and foreign ministers of Japan and Australia are set to meet in Tokyo next week, the Japanese government said Friday, as China's military buildup and North Korea's missile and nuclear programs threaten regional security.

At the planned "two-plus-two" talks on Dec. 9, the four ministers are expected to exchange views on how to promote their defense cooperation "given the increasingly severe strategic security in the Indo-Pacific region," the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada are slated to host their Australian counterparts, Penny Wong and Richard Marles, according to the ministry.

It would be the first in-person two-plus-two talks between Japan and Australia since October 2018. Tokyo and Canberra last held a similar meeting in June 2021 in virtual format.

The foreign and defense chiefs are likely to talk about the two countries' joint declaration on security cooperation, signed in October by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese, who took office in May.

In the declaration, the two leaders reaffirmed the "vital special strategic partnership" between the two nations and reiterated their commitment to realizing a "shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region that is inclusive and resilient."

Japan and Australia are part of the four-way security framework known as the Quad, involving the United States and India, as the countries seek to form a united front against Beijing's growing military and economic influence.

Security concerns in the Asia-Pacific region have also been mounting as North Korea has fired ballistic missiles at an unprecedented pace since the start of this year amid fears that it may conduct its seventh nuclear test, the first since September 2017.

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