Japan, Australia pledge to boost disaster cooperation

09:19, April 22, 2011      

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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his visiting Australian counterpart, Julia Gillard on Thursday pledged to bolster bilateral efforts in dealing with natural disasters and address issues of Japan's primary energy supply deficiencies in the wake of the March 11 Great Tohoku Earthquake.

Gillard, the first foreign leader to visit Japan on official business since the quake and tsunami battered the east and northeastern regions of the nation, said in a joint statement with Kan that it was "timely to further develop bilateral cooperation and to strengthen coordination in the civil and military areas on disaster preparedness and response."

In addition, Kan and Gillard both expressed their willingness to enhance their cooperation to globally strengthen the safety standards of nuclear power generation.

Gillard, for her part, pledged a continued, reliable supply of coal and iron ore as well as liquefied natural gas as Japan faces energy shortages following the quake-triggered nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture.

"In overall terms, Australia is the largest single supplier of primary energy to Japan, which is helping to keep Japan a major exporter of industrial goods," the Australian premier said.

The two leaders also agreed to continue discussing the possibility of inking a comprehensive trade pact as both countries have been discussing the notion of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) since 2007.

But Tokyo has so far held out due to a reluctance to lift tariffs on its farm products.

The Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA), both parties said, should be brought into force as soon as possible and talks on an information security agreement held prior to the next two-plus-two meeting.

The ACSA will mean that Japan's Self-Defense Forces and Australia's military can share resources during operations.

Gillard, who began her four-day trip to Japan Wednesday night, expressed her sympathy to those affected by the March 11 disaster and wished for the country a swift recovery and offered Australia' s unwavering support.

Source: Xinhua
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