As Japan and Australia are poised to draw closer through potential collaboration on military development, cooperation to counter coercion and anti-democratic trends in the Indo-Pacific is equally important according to a new report from the United States Studies Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney.

In Aligning values and interests: Japanese and Australian democracy support in the Pacific and Southeast Asia the authors emphasise that while both Japan and Australia place heavy importance on providing aid and infrastructure in the region, without a push for democratic values it will fail to counter malign influences in the region.

Edited by Dr Lavina Lee, USSC non-resident senior fellow, the report also features contributions from Chikako Kodama, Hitsubashi University Graduate School of Law PhD candidate; Dr John Lee, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow; Dr Yuki Miyoda, University of Tokyo Graduate School of Frontier Sciences project researcher; and Prof. Hiroaki Shiga, Yokohama National University professor at the Graduate School of International Social Sciences.

“The United States, Japan and Australia have long pursued different approaches to democracy and development in the Indo-Pacific region. However, the revisionist moves of Chinese President Xi Jinping that undermine democracies and governance in the region creates an imperative for the three allies to work together in an unprecedented way,” USSC CEO Dr Michael Green noted.

“This collection of essays features not just robust analysis of democracy and development in the region, but it also charts a course for greater collaboration between allies and partners,” Green added.

From strengthening ties with other countries in the region to providing safe-haven for pro-democracy advocates, the report outlines recommendations for Australia and Japan that would change the state of strategic competition in the region.

“On diverse issues ranging from security to development assistance, the efforts of Japan and Australia across the region have never been more deeply aligned, however, the continued reticence to employ the full suite of their foreign policy toolkits in support of democratic governance leaves Chinese narratives uncontested,” Dr Lee said.

Aligning values and interests: Japanese and Australian democracy support in the Pacific and Southeast Asia is now available for download.

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Listen to Dr Lavina Lee give an overview of her report on the USSC Briefing Room podcast.

This project was supported by a grant from the Japan Foundation to Macquarie University.