In the context of an increasingly challenging maritime domain in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, Australia, and the United States have been strengthening their trilateral maritime relations. On June 27, Sasakawa USA, in partnership with the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at Australian National University and the Command and Staff College of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, convened a public forum in Canberra, Australia to discuss the current status of this important trilateral maritime relationship and explore means for further strengthening and future cooperation.
The conference addressed issues such as the geopolitical objectives, interests, and activities in the maritime domain; scientific and enforcement aspects of civilian maritime activities; and military maritime activities.
The maritime security interests of the United States, Japan, and Australia overlap in the Western Pacific and East Asia. All three countries are trading nations and have strong interests in the free flow of commerce on and above the oceans, and in the full range of maritime rights and responsibilities in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. But this does not mean that their maritime security interests are necessarily congruent. American interests are strongest in the Northwest Pacific and extend into the South China Sea as well as the Southwest Pacific. Japan’s maritime interests are more localized to the sea areas around its island nation, but that is a large stretch of water, from the Bering Sea to the Bashi Strait. Australia, for its part, is most deeply concerned with the waters between its northern coast and the Indonesian archipelago whilst maintaining security relationships with many island nations in the Southwest Pacific, and security interests in the waters around them.
A network of maritime cooperation activities among the United States, Japan, and Australia has existed for many years. The military component has traditionally been based on bilateral relationships, but through exercises such as RIMPAC has become more multilateral in character. Trilateral military consultation and exercises have been episodic. Beyond the military sphere, the three countries share an interest in patrolling their large exclusive economic zones and long coastlines to prevent illegal activities. In addition, they understand the importance of the world’s oceans in regulating the global climate, and in the importance of further oceanographic research to better understand overall climatic effects as well as local destructive weather coming from the sea.
With many maritime security interests in common, several of them threatened by other countries’ policies and activities, it is important for the United States, Japan, and Australia to refine and deepen understandings of their own maritime security interests, policies and activities. By bringing together maritime experts, government officials, and uniformed navy and coast guard officers from the United States, Japan, and Australia, the purpose of this conference was to better understand how maritime security interests interact and overlap as well as to formulate trilateral cooperative approaches to enhancing the maritime security of all three countries.
View the full agenda here.
• Adm. Chris Barrie (RAN, ret.), Adjunct Professor, Strategic and Defenatece Studies Centre, Australian National University
• Dr. Anthony Bergin, Deputy Director, Australian Strategic Policy Institute
• Adm. Dennis Blair (USN, ret.), Chairman and CEO, Sasakawa USA
• Dr. Carol Anne Clayson, Director, Ocean and Climate Change Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
• Adm. Walter Doran (USN, ret.), President, Pacific Vision, LLC
• Dr. Stephan Fruehling, Associate Professor, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University
• RAdm. James Goldrick AO (RAN, ret.), CSC, Adjunct Professor, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University
• Dr. Euan Graham, Director, International Security Program at the Lowy Institute
• Dr. Jeffrey Hornung, Fellow, Security and Foreign Affairs Program, Sasakawa USA
• Mr. Peter Jennings, Executive Director, Australian Strategic Policy Institute
• VAdm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher (USN, ret.), Jr., CEO, GeoOptics, Inc.
• Mr. Yoshikiyo Ono, Secretary General, Japanese Shipowners’ Association
• VAdm. Umio Otsuka (JMSDF), President JMSDF Command and Staff College
• VAdm. Robert Parker (USCG, ret.), Owner & Sole Proprietor, C-Dawg International; Senior Fellow, U.S. Naval War College and U.S. National Defense University
• Mr. Stanley Roth, Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
• Dr. Isami Takeda, Professor of International Relations, Dokkyo University
• Dr. Brendan Taylor, Head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University
• Amb. Shingo Yamagami, Acting Director JIIA
• Dr. Toshio Yamagata, Director, Application Laboratory of Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
• Capt. Katsuya Yamamoto (JMSDF), JMSDF Command and Staff College