The current Japanese and Australian governments came into being in December 2012 and September 2013 respectively. Both are headed by conservative, neoliberal, climate-denialist, pro-American leaders, of similar age (Abe Shinzo was born in September 1954, Tony Abbott in November 1957), who quickly established a close rapport. Following their first meeting, at an ASEAN summit in October 2013, Abbott declared Abe Australia’s ‘best friend in Asia’. In meetings that followed, in Tokyo in April and Canberra in July 2014, they resolved to transform the ‘strategic partnership’ into a new ‘special relationship.’ Both made unprecedented invited appearances at the highest-level national-security-council meeting of their counterpart country, and signed agreements for free trade and defence cooperation (including ‘trilateral security cooperation with the United States’) and closer scientific and academic links.
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