Death penalty a sticking point in Australia-Japan military agreement

Japan's retention of the death penalty could hinder a major security agreement with Australia from being finalized by early next year, Australian media reported Tuesday.
The Australian newspaper reported that the possibility of Australian defense personnel facing the death penalty over crimes such as rape or murder committed on Japanese soil could prevent the so-called reciprocal access agreement from being ratified by Australia's Parliament.
Japan views Australia as a "quasi-ally," and the agreement would see the two countries conduct joint military exercises and other activities by their defense forces when visiting each other's countries.
The two countries have long negotiated over the agreement which is seen as a key part of their plans to deepen defense cooperation in the face of China's growing influence in the Pacific region.
According to the report in The Australian, it is unclear if the already behind schedule agreement will be ready for in-principle agreement when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison makes a two-day visit to Japan in January.
All Australian jurisdictions abolished the death penalty in 1985. In 2010, the federal government passed legislation that prohibits the reintroduction of capital punishment.

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