Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has met with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe ahead of the G20 meeting in Osaka.
The warm relationship between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe was on display as they met ahead of the G20.
Abe twice used the prime minister’s nickname “ScoMo” in welcoming him to Japan, and spoke of the countries’ close ties.
“We have a special strategic partnership with Australia; we must promote that forcefully so that we can cooperate for the realisation of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Abe said.
He also welcomed Morrison’s major foreign policy speech earlier this week, in which the prime minister said Australia would not stand by while the trade tensions between the US and China damage the global economy.
During their meeting, which was also attended by Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and senior officials, both leaders expressed their wish for the US and China to reach an agreement on trade to provide momentum for global growth.
They also committed to finalising the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a trade deal involving the ASEAN and Indo-Pacific states, excluding the US.
It’s hoped the deal will be complete by the end of the year.
While the pair met in Darwin and at the G20 in Argentina as leaders last year, this is Morrison’s first trip to Japan as prime minister.
He said he was pleased to return the support Japan gave Australia when the G20 was hosted in Brisbane in 2014.
“I particularly want to thank the prime minister for your support in relation to the combating terrorism on the internet … initiative and your support in allowing that agenda to come through into the meeting,” Morrison said.
“We look forward to what we might be able to achieve in that area.”
Morrison wrote to Abe soon after the live-streamed Christchurch mosque massacre in March with a proposal to use the G20 to make social media companies crack down on violent extremists using their platforms.
That has become a formal item for discussion at the second leaders’ session once the summit begins on Friday.
The pair also discussed Abe’s goals for the G20, particularly his desire for a show of unity in tackling shared challenges.
They talked about enhanced security cooperation in the region, given North Korea’s ballistic missile capabilities, and Australia and Japan’s shared interest in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.