Page 10

COL Monterola with GEN Koji Yamazaki, Chief of Staff, Japan Self-Defense Force. Photo: Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

The Last Post: Hello Simon, Colonel Simon Monterola, Australia’s military attache in Japan, how are you and welcome to The Last Post. Colonel Simon Monterola: Thanks Greg and yes, good thanks. Yeah, beautiful spring day up here in Tokyo, it’s great. Cherry blossoms are blooming, and great time of year. TLP: Yes, I’m missing it already. CSM: I think your trip was three weeks too early. It’s great colour here. TLP: Yes, we’ll have to do it better next time. How have you been? Everything going okay? CSM: Yeah, good, good. Busy couple of weeks, but, yeah, just sort of another week in the life I guess. The defence relationship we have with Japan continues to be fundamental. It’s keeping us busy. TLP: What do you see as the situation with Japan and Australia and their relationship as we speak? CSM: I guess broadly, look, we are two like-minded liberal democracies in the Asia-Pacific region, so I guess we are drawn together as natural partners, I guess, is how I would describe the broader relationship. Our governments are very close from our prime ministers down. There are very strong, well-established, sincere relationships, right across government and across the official level. And then, I think beyond government, people-to-people links right across society in Australia and Japan are very strong so ... But look, we really are natural partners, and I think the strengths of the relationship has been developing for many decades. But, I think really, just in particular of the last five to 10 years, I think the relationship is really gone to ... In terms of the strength of the political and broader strategic relationship, really has gone to new levels. So, we have a special strategic partnership with Japan,

is the way it’s described in the scheme of things which really means two close likeminded, natural partners underpinned by very strong strategic trust, and I guess that’s the key to growing a relationship of this nature. It takes years and years of developing strategic trust, and look our prime ministers and our ministers over the years have often said, “We really have no better friend in the Asia-Pacific region than Japan. It is amongst our most important regional relationships.” TLP: On the way back from Hiroshima, speaking with you and I think I was aware of the importance and the growing importance of the Japan Australia relationship, and it was interesting to hear you articulate it so well. You speak of an ongoing development in the role. What stage are we at, at the moment? CSM: Look, I guess, I would describe the relationship as we’re still in the grow phase. There is still further opportunities certainly in terms of our strategic partnership, and for me, in the defence relationship, we are certainly still in the grow phase of the relationship. We have a really good, strong, solid foundation with the partnership that we want to build with Japan, but there are many opportunities going forward for what more we can be doing together. Yeah, it’s the best way of describing it. TLP: Yes, an evolution of sorts. We spoke also, Simon, about the added extra importance of maintaining and growing the relationship in light of some strategic question marks over certain allies, and I guess the strength being of Australia and the importance of a trusting bond is probably what you said earlier, and very important in the light of international affairs. CSM: You mean, in regards to regional security circumstances and so on. TLP: Yes, exactly.

8  THE LAST POST – 2019 ANZAC DAY EDITION

CSM: Our relationship with Japan is really not focused on any specific regional security issue. It’s about us working together as like-minded partners as I said, “To contribute to enhancing regional security and stability.” It’s really not focused on any one issue. We all know there are a handful of issues in the Asian region that at present which have the potential to cause instability, but we’re not focused on any particular issue. We’re just focused on building our partnerships, so that together we can be working across the region together for common objectives, common purposes, that sort of thing. TLP: Yes. You’re reading my mind. And I’m saying to you is that, “Japan and Australia, what are the things that bind us together, those common attributes?” CSM: Look, it’s often said that, “The people-to-people links are really one of the strongest pillars of the relationship.” I mean, how many Australians do you speak to who will spend time in Japan as doing English teaching, or as exchange students, or traveling, or skiing? My impression is that Australians really love visiting Japan, and really just have a natural affinity with the place, and likewise Australia is one of the most popular destinations for Japanese to visit, to study, to work, so I think it really is those strong people-to-people links that really underpin the relationship in many ways. But then beyond that, as I said earlier, “it’s more broadly, in terms of being like-minded liberal democracies.” I mean, as you know, our governments look at the region; they look at regional security circumstances through very similar eyes, through a very similar sort of prism. TLP: I think what you said about both being democracies, it is such an important part of that bond. CSM: We’ve very similar outlooks on regional security issues and regional

Profile for The Last Post Magazine

The Last Post Magazine Anzac Day 2019  

In 2019 TLP editor Greg T Ross visited Japan under the Japan-Australia Grassroots Exchange Programme. To commemorate the visit and the prog...

The Last Post Magazine Anzac Day 2019  

In 2019 TLP editor Greg T Ross visited Japan under the Japan-Australia Grassroots Exchange Programme. To commemorate the visit and the prog...

Advertisement