Today, we commence a four day visit to the Republic of Korea and Japan to demonstrate our bipartisan commitment to both nations and highlight the strategic importance a future Labor Government will place on our relationships in North Asia.
Over the next four days we will hold meetings with political leaders, government officials and civil society representatives to discuss the North Asian regional order, economic issues, and the security situation on the Korean peninsula.
This will include scheduled meetings with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea Lee Nak-yeon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon, Commander US Forces Korea, General Vincent K. Brooks and Foreign Minister of Japan Tarō Kōno.
Our visit comes at a time when this region is facing an unprecedented crisis. The threat posed by North Korea has an immediate impact on the security of its neighbours, and on global peace and security.
North Korea poses the greatest current threat to peace and stability in our region, and it is essential that we work with South Korea and Japan, with other regional allies and partners, and with the broader international community to encourage and persuade North Korea to adhere to UN Security Council resolutions.
North Asia’s security is of fundamental importance to Australia. Along with China’s rise, the progress and growth of our other major partners in the region, in particular the economic strength of Japan and South Korea, is central to our own economic success.
Our bilateral relations with South Korea are characterised by strong economic, political, and people to people linkages anchored in our commitment and significant contribution as part of the UN command forces to defend South Korea.
Some 17,000 Australians fought to defend South Korea from northern aggression during the Korean War, with the loss of 340 Australian lives.
Since that time our bilateral relationship has grown from strength to strength through strong trade, business, community, education and cultural links. We share similar strategic interests and operate according to shared democratic principles and freedoms.
Our bilateral relations with Japan are also deep and longstanding.
Australia’s relationship with Japan has grown in breadth and depth over decades, since the 1950s, and has been a priority for successive Australian governments.
Japan is one of our largest economic partners – in export and trade terms – and we have close and shared interests across all spheres; defence, international security, a commitment to democratic principles and a rules-based order, humanitarian, cultural and education and research.
Our visit will demonstrate our bipartisan support for the Republic of Korea and Japan, and demonstrate that a change of government will not affect Australia’s strong support for both nations at this dangerous and challenging time.
Our visit will show Labor’s support for working cooperatively with our partners and allies to address the security challenges in the region, and support for efforts to pursue practical measures that deescalate tensions and force North Korea to comply with international demands.