March 21, 2005


Key ally in new world (The Australian, March 21, 2005)

WHEN John Howard was explaining his decision to send extra Aussie soldiers to Iraq, the Japan connection was central.

"Japan's presence in Iraq as part of the coalition is very important, both in substance and through its symbolism," he said. "Japan is a significant Asian power, a great Pacific democracy and a global economic power."

Howard's words to Parliament indicate Japan's continuing central relevance to Australia. Japan remains the second-largest economy in the world and the biggest export market for Australia.

Australia has been central to Japan's energy security and Japan has been central to Australia's post-war prosperity. But Japan is also, like Australia, a democracy and also, like Australia, a military ally of the US. We make too little of these shared values.

As is so many things, George W. Bush has achieved what his father only talked about.

Jakarta plan Australia's key to Asia: Indonesia's Foreign Minister pledges to help Australia become a member of a powerful new regional grouping. (Mark Forbes, March 21, 2005, The Age)

Australia should become part of Asia and a proposed security treaty with Indonesia could be a symbol for integration with the region, according to Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.

In an exclusive interview with The Age, Dr Wirajuda said deepening and expanding ties with Indonesia could see his nation become a "bridge" into the region for Australia. He vowed to try to overturn resistance to Australia joining a new East Asian Summit.

Last week Malaysia said Australia should not be invited to the summit - an expanded ASEAN that could form the region's major international forum - which will hold an inaugural meeting in Kuala Lumpur in December.

Dr Wirajuda said he would argue against the exclusion at a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers next month.

To forge a groundbreaking security treaty, Dr Wirajuda indicated Indonesia would not insist on Australia abandoning controversial restrictions on training with some of Indonesia's feared Kopassus troops, stating a gradual approach to closer military ties would be acceptable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 21, 2005 3:56 PM

The dicey thing is going to be encouraging Japanese rearmament without scaring the bejeezus out of all the rest of East Asia. If the PRC continues some of its more ill-advised saber rattling in places like Taiwan and the Spratleys, that may become less of an issue.

Posted by: bart at March 21, 2005 4:06 PM

Fold in India and you have a hat trick.

Posted by: Luciferous at March 21, 2005 5:30 PM