Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit a war grave commemorating his country’s soldiers who were killed in Australia, having already laid a wreath at the Darwin Cenotaph to remember victims of the 1942 bombing.
Mr Abe will on Saturday inspect a memorial for the 80-crew Japanese submarine I-124, which was sunk off Darwin in January 1942 during an attempted attack, and remains there.
The month after the submarine was sunk, on February 19, 1942, Darwin was bombed in the largest attack mounted on mainland Australia, resulting in the deaths of about 240 people.
Saturday’s visit to the memorial comes during the first trip by a Japanese prime minister to Darwin, and follows talks between Mr Abe and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday
The leaders struck a deal to fund infrastructure projects together in the Pacific at a time of tensions over China’s influence in the region.
A joint statement by the two leaders mentioned a recent memorandum of understanding between Australia, the United States and Japan that aims to support trilateral c-ooperation in the Indo Pacific.
“This will greatly assist furthering our investment and infrastructure support within the southwest Pacific,” Mr Morrison told reporters on Friday, adding that both countries stood for democracy and against protectionism.
“We (Australia and Japan) both have a similar outlook when it comes to managing our relationships with two important partners (China and the US),” he said.
China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang said this week the Pacific was “not any country’s sphere of influence”, and that Australia and its allies had a Cold War mentality.
Also on Friday, Australia and Japan signed a statement of intent to boost maritime security in combating crime.
Mr Morrison and Mr Abe also said they had agreed to increase defence co-operation, but made no specific announcements about expanding on the joint exercises that have already been held.
Both Mr Morrison and Mr Abe are heading to Port Moresby for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which Chinese President Xi Jinping and United States Vice President Mike Pence are also attending.