Beijing has also been presenting itself as a global public health leader during the coronavirus pandemic, embarking on a humanitarian aid blitz in the region including sending medical supplies throughout the Pacific.
Mr Morrison and Mr Abe will on Thursday agree on further co-operation on health efforts to combat the pandemic, and talk about the prospect of Mr Morrison visiting Japan in the near future.
Mr Morrison said he and Mr Abe would discuss their “shared experiences in responding to the COVID-19 crisis” and ways they can work together to ensure “an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
He said Australia and Japan were “like-minded democracies” and “natural partners with shared interests underpinned by open markets and the rule of law”.
“We will discuss ways to coordinate our assistance in the Pacific and Southeast Asia to strengthen health systems, and promote economic resilience and recovery,” Mr Morrison said.
“I also look forward to discussing with Prime Minister Abe opportunities to further deepen our defence and security ties.
“Japan is our second largest two-way trading partner and second largest source of foreign direct investment. The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement binds our close business ties and complementary economies.”
There has been growing concern from countries throughout the region about China using the global pandemic to make strategic gains including passing a new national security law to crack down on activists in Hong Kong, border clashes with India and a growing militarisation of the South China Sea.
Mr Morrison said the meeting would build on and reaffirm the importance of the special strategic partnership between the two countries signed in 2014.
“The meeting presents a timely opportunity to reaffirm the shared principles, values and global outlook that reinforce one of Australia’s closest regional partnerships,” Mr Morrison said.
“The meeting will also help to lay the foundations for my rescheduled visit to Japan as soon as circumstances allow.”
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Anthony is foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.