The defense ministers of Japan, the United States and Australia on Thursday signed a cooperation agreement on new technologies, including autonomous systems, as they strengthen security ties amid China's military buildup in the Indo-Pacific region.

In a joint statement issued after the Hawaii meeting, the three parties also said their militaries aim to conduct “the first regional air and missile defense live-fire exercise in 2027” in a regular multinational military exercise. He also said that

Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara (left) and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin pose together in Hawaii on May 2, 2024. (Kyodo News)

The three-way meeting between Japan's Defense Minister Minoru Kihara, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Australian Defense Minister Richard Mars preceded a four-way meeting that also included Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro.

In a statement, Kihara, Austin and Marrs said they would “further discuss opportunities for cooperation” in cutting-edge technology, including in the areas of “joint combat aircraft” and “composite aerospace materials.”

The two leaders said cooperation on new technologies will be pursued under the new tripartite Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation Project Agreement.

The three parties also agreed to conduct joint F-35 fighter jet training in both countries for the next two years until 2026.

Regarding Russia's war in Ukraine, the defense secretaries strongly criticized the “increasing military cooperation between North Korea and Russia,” including North Korea's export of ballistic missiles and Russian procurement, which violates United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The three also condemned Russia's use of missiles against Ukraine.

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