US Cements ‘Game-Changing’ Military Ties Between Japan and Australia

A new military pact between Japan and Australia came into effect on Sunday that allows the two countries to deploy troops to each other's territory

A new US-backed military pact between Japan and Australia came into effect on Sunday that makes it easier for the two nations to deploy troops to each other’s territory, a type of cooperation the Pentagon has called “game-changing.”

The Recipricol Forces Agreement (RFA) with Australia is the first deal of its kind Japan has struck with another nation besides the US in the post-World War II era. The US has been encouraging allies in the Asia Pacific to boost military ties as part of its preparations for a future war with China in the region.

According to Nikkei Asia, the RFA will make it less difficult to conduct joint military exercises in each country by relaxing immigration control for troops and simplifying procedures for transporting weapons and ammunition.

“We’re seeing Australia play an increasingly important role in the regional security architecture. What we are aiming to do together in the years ahead, particularly with Japan, will be game-changing for strengthening regional stability,” a senior Pentagon official told Nikkei.

According to the Australian Defense Ministry, initial cooperation under the agreement will include the following:

  • Japanese F-35s will deploy to Australia, to Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal for the first time at the end of August
  • Exercise Bushido Guardian, where Australian F-35s will be deployed to Japan for the first time in early September
  • Australia will participate in Exercise Yama Sakura as a full participant for the first time with more than 150 personnel traveling to Japan in December.

The RFA is just one of many examples of the US looking to forge alliances in the Asia Pacific as part of its buildup against China. Japan is integral to the US effort since it hosts the largest US military presence outside of the United States.

The US is eyeing another trilateral alliance that involves Japan and South Korea. President Biden is hosting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at Camp David this Friday, where the leaders are expected to announce new forms of military cooperation, including joint exercises.

In 2021, the US, Britain, and Australia signed the AUKUS military pact that focuses on military technology sharing and will increase the US presence in Australia. The Biden administration has also been increasing cooperation between the Quad, an informal security grouping that includes the US, Japan, India, and Australia.

The US is looking to add the Philippines to the coalition with Australia and Japan, which could involve joint patrols in the South China Sea. Washington and Manila recently inked a deal that will give the US access to four more bases in the Philippines.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.