Changing regional conditions necessitate strategic coordination between Australia and Japan to preserve the rules-based order in the Asia Pacific. The direction of this bilateral relationship will be predicated on two major factors: how both countries perceive the relative strength and intentions of the United States and China in the region. The US commitment to Asia remains under scrutiny, particularly after the recent withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. China's flexing of its military muscle in the South China Sea challenges the rule of law in the region. Countries are responding to the percevied shift in power in the region by shoring up their own defense due to the unpredictability of the US-China dynamic. If Australia and Japan can achieve consensus on these views and take steps to deepen their relationship, then they enhance their strategic flexibility while promoting a stable, prosperous Asia Pacific region that respects the rule of law.
This publication was produced by Ms Marta McLellan Ross. Marta holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and graduated magna cum laude from Birmingham-Southern College with a B.A in Asian Studies and Political Science. She received the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for commitment to a career in public service in 2001.