Defence ministers for Japan, Australia, and the US have committed to F-35 joint fighter training during the Trilateral Defense Ministerial Meeting held in Hawaii on May 2, 2024.

The ministers highlighted plans for further F-35 joint training in 2025 and 2026, marking a significant step in increasing operational collaboration and defence preparedness. This includes utilising facilities in Australia and expanding engagement in complex air and missile defence exercises.

The ministers reviewed the progress made since the 2023 Joint Statement, focusing on practical areas of cooperation and activities that enhance the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region. They emphasised the alignment of strategic interests among the three nations and reaffirmed their dedication to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Key developments include the implementation of the Japan-Australia Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) in August 2023, which facilitated inaugural reciprocal deployments of Japan’s F-35A aircraft to Australia and vice versa. This agreement enhances interoperability and deepens defence ties among the three nations by allowing more streamlined defence force deployments across each other’s territories.

The ministers signed a trilateral Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) Projects Arrangement during the meeting, underscoring a deepened commitment to technological innovation and cooperation. This arrangement enables the defence organisations from the three countries to collaboratively pursue operationally-relevant advancements in combat aircraft technologies, autonomous systems, and composite aerospace materials. 

The meeting addressed broader regional security issues, including opposition to unilateral actions by China in the South and East China Seas and concerns over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and missile launches. The ministers condemned these destabilising actions and reiterated their support for international law and regional sovereignty.

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This trilateral meeting is part of a continuing trend of increased military collaboration and strategic planning among Japan, Australia, and the US, Japan has a long history of establishing multilateral defence partnerships with the US and other nations, reflecting its desire to refresh and renew US interest in the region.