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Japan's Move for Further Overseas Military Deployment
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The joint declaration on security cooperation, which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister John Howard signed on Tuesday in Tokyo, is a move taken by the Japanese government for further overseas military deployment.

By strengthening security cooperation and military ties with Australia, Japan intends to build a Japan-Australia-US military alliance and pave the way for more overseas deployment of Japan's Self-Defense Forces in the future.

Under the declaration, Japan and Australia will set an action plan for their militaries to conduct international cooperation while intensifying strategic dialogues between their foreign and defense ministers.

As two staunch allies of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, both Japan and Australia supported the US-led invasion of Iraq and contributed troops to the multinational force in post-war Iraq. Military cooperation between the two countries is also expected to contribute to the formation of a strong triangular military alliance, for which the three countries started strategic dialogues last year.

In April 1996, Japan and the United States signed a similar declaration, lifting the level of their alliance and shifting the focus of their military cooperation from "situations in Japan" to "situations in the Far East." In January, Japan upgraded its Defense Agency to the Ministry of Defense in January.

Overseas activities such as peacekeeping and disaster relief have been upgraded as essential duties of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). Japan hopes all these moves will make it a great military power in the world.

After taking office in September, Abe claimed that Japan would strengthen cooperation with countries sharing the "basic values" with Japan. According to some Japanese media, Abe's remarks mean the increased military cooperation with Australia is obviously aimed at some Asian countries, although Abe and Howard denied that it is directed at any third country.

Howard said at a press conference on Tuesday: "It should not be seen as being antagonistic to anybody in the region. We all have an obligation to recall the past but also to look to the future. That is the spirit I have brought to the relationship of Japan and Australia."

If they mean what they say, they should take into consideration the concerns and interests of other countries in the region when their countries engage in security cooperation.

And they should do things to promote the trust among countries in the region and refrain from doing anything which would harm regional peace and stability.

(Xinhua News Agency March 15, 2007)

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