22 Apr 2022

Watch: PM Jacinda Ardern on New Zealand's strategic partnership with Japan

12:59 pm on 22 April 2022

Sharing information with Japan on strategic priorities could only be of benefit to New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said on the second day of her visit there.

Watch the PM speaking from Japan here:

Ardern met with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo last night, the pair agreeing to boost security ties, after a full day of promoting New Zealand exports and efforts to combat climate change.

Ardern said today her talks with Kishida last night were "warm" and "substantive".

"And in the end over an hour longer than we had intended for the bilateral and dinner to extend for."

She said the time spent was a reflection of the relationship between New Zealand and Japan, and also our strong shared interests.

Having partners within the region who were quickly able to mobilise and share information on events or strategic priorities was "only beneficial, to New Zealand".

She said the AUKUS agreement which New Zealand is not a part of is largely focused on military procurement at this point.

"It allows Australia to access the IP that's required in order for them to procure nuclear-powered submarines, so quite specific at the moment. They've kept it open ended ... but quite different to the bilateral arrangement we're now entering into to share information between New Zealand and Japan where it's in both our interests."

Ardenr said a good example was where New Zealand's proximity was helpful for Japan becoming involved in the humanitarian response after the volcanic eruption in Tonga.

She said for both New Zealand and Japan, the war in Ukraine represented a significant disruption to the international rules-based order, and there was a shared concern that the international community demonstrated the likely response to any threat to a country's territorial integrity.

"It is about demonstrating through global action that there will be swift response should that occur in any other region or country."

She said there was also discussion about information sharing arrangements, the negotiations for which will now begin in earnest.

A couple of weeks before Ardern left on her trip to Asia, Cabinet had decided to go through the process which would allow that arrangement to occur.

New Zealand has similar agreements with other countries, such as the one with Spain, which allows information sharing across a range of agencies up to the level of top secret, Ardern said.

The conversations also touched on things like hydrogen, EVs, and space.

"The final comment I thought I would make is just the fact that Japan's presence in our corner of the Pacific has been felt for some time. I mentioned yesterday the partnership around electricity generation in PNG, that sits alongside obviously their humanitarian response in Tonga, but Japan has long been a source of high-quality infrastructure in the Pacific.

"In fact they are one of the largest contributors to infrastructure projects in the Pacific, which is perhaps not always recognised or known."

Ardern said the country's spy agencies will be able to engage and share information "up to the level of top secret, and at our discretion", with the exact details still to be negotiated.

She said there was "unquestionably" a growth in assertiveness in the Pacific.

"We've seen escalation of tensions in the South China sea, of course Japan reflecting what they're observing in the East China Sea here. We call for all countries to uphold international law in our region."

She said that was why there had also been a strong response to the situation in Ukraine.

She said China did not object to New Zealand setting up a similar agreement with Spain, and she saw no reason China would be concerned about this one.

"New Zealand has these kinds of arrangements with a number of other countries, it would be wrong to preclude having such an arrangement with Japan simply because we'd be worried about the perception of it."

New Zealand was not required to consult with its Five Eyes partners on information sharing arrangements like this.

The prime minister's trade delegation is expected to depart Japan tomorrow.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs