Sun, Apr 24, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Joint Australia, Japan troop training mulled

NEW FRIENDS:Julia Gillard made the announcement just before ANZAC Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand for those who died in combat

AFP, SYDNEY

Japanese troops could be allowed to train in Australian defense units, 66 years after the end of World War II, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was quoted as saying yesterday.

Gillard is in Japan for meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and told the Weekend Australian newspaper she was open to the idea of Japanese soldiers gaining direct experience from their more combat-ready Australian peers.

While Japan’s post-war military is restricted to self-defense and peacekeeping operations, Tokyo is reportedly keen to draw on the combat experience Australians have gained in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The newspaper said the key reason was to be ready to respond to increased belligerence from China and the growing threat of North Korea.

Gillard said Australia had yet to receive a formal proposal, but she was open to the idea.

“We would need to work it through and see what request Japan might or might not make of us,” Gillard said. “We do have good links and partnerships at the moment and so we are looking to build on that with this vision of defense co-operation bilaterally for the future. We are in a region with reasons for defense co-operation.”

Australia and Japan have already signed a re-supply and cross-servicing pact that allows their forces to operate closely during disasters or peacekeeping operations, the report said. The two sides are also reportedly eyeing a pact to share intelligence.

Gillard’s comments came just days ahead of ANZAC Day which is tomorrow, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand for those who died in military operations for their countries.

Gillard will spend the day in South Korea, commemorating one of Australia’s key military engagements in the Korean War — the Battle of Kapyong.

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