Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA)

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have signed a landmark strategic Defence deal named ‘Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA)’ on November 18. Under the pact, the troops of Japan and Australia can visit each other’s country and conduct training and joint-operations.

Key Points

  • RAA envisages countering China’s influence in the South China Sea and over the Pacific island countries.
  • RAA negotiations took 6 years and now the lawmakers of both the countries will ratify it.
  • The agreement will strengthen the security ties between both the defense forces and facilitate cooperation.
  • This is the first such agreement signed by Japan after signing the ‘Status of forces agreement’ in 1960 that allowed the US to base warships and troops in and around Japan.
  • Japanese Prime Minister visited Vietnam and Indonesia to promote ties, to counter Chinese aggression. He also participated in the ‘QUAD’ group of Japan, Australia, the United States, and India.

Japan-Australia Relations

The relations between Australia and Japan are amiable. Japan is one of the major economic partners in Australia. It is the 2nd largest trading partner of Australia and is also an important source of capital investment. Japan allows visa-free access in the country to the Australians, and Australia reciprocates the same by allowing Japanese to apply for Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) immediate authorization – visa-free access for up to 3 months.

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD)

QUAD is an informal strategic forum between Japan, Australia, the United States, and India. The forum is maintained by information exchanges, semi-regular summits, and military drills between the members. The forum was started in 2007 as a dialogue by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the support of US Vice President Dick Cheney, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises, titled Exercise Malabar. In 2020, Australia joined the Malabar exercise for the first time. This resulted in the participation of all four countries of the forum in the Malabar exercise for the 1st time. The 2nd Ministerial meeting of QUAD countries was held in October 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.