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Each accounts for close to one-fifth of LNG imports for Japan.Australia’s role as a stable supplier of strategic raw materials contributes to Japanese and regional economic and political security.This is the constructive diplomacy on which the Australia–Japan partnership now needs to be brought to bear.
Japan is Australia’s second most important economic partner, with trade and investment of close to US$80 billion annually — Australia is Japan’s fourth largest trading partner.
Less recognised is the strategic importance of the economic relationship: Australia is the largest supplier of strategic raw materials to Japan and underwrites its industrial strength.
There is also growing concern within China about its tensions with neighbours.
Australia and Japan are both now part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the two mega-regional economic agreements under negotiation in Asia and the Asia Pacific.
The closeness and familiarity between the two countries has deepened over the years, built on their large scale and broad-ranging economic relationship.
This is a remarkable achievement given where the two countries came from as adversaries in World War Two.
The TPP does not include China and RCEP does not include the United States, so Australia and Japan have a critical role to play in ensuring that these agreements do not divide the region but are instead complementary and bring China and the United States into a closer and more comprehensive trans-regional arrangement in the longer term.
The deepening of regional economic interdependence will help countries manage their other differences.
As Washington's reliability and effectiveness as an ally diminish, it's logical that a more robust relationship between Australia and Japan would extend beyond the economic realm into the security sphere.
To that end, Australia and Japan have been working to develop a security structure independent of their alliance with the United States intended to eventually bring in additional allies, both Asian and European.