11/16/2018, 13.42
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Shinzo Abe makes an historic visit to Darwin, severely damaged by Japan during WWII

Japan and Australia are trying to counter Chinese activism in the Pacific through closer economic and military ties. The Japanese leader pays tribute to the victims of the worst foreign attack against Australia. This was followed by the inauguration of US$ 34 billion pipeline project.

Darwin (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a historic visit this morning to Darwin some 75 years after Japan’s Imperial Air Force bombed the northern Australian city.

Mr Abe is the first Japanese leader to visit the city, which was bombed in 1942-43 in Australia’s worst foreign attack. The highly moving ceremony saw the Japanese leader lay a wreath at the Darwin Cenotaph dedicated to the victims of the attack.

The event, ahead of tomorrow’s APEC meeting, seems however more focused on trade than on remembrance. In fact, Abe met his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison to talk about trade and greater defence cooperation.

Also on Friday, Abe attended another ceremony marking the opening of a US$ 34 billion pipeline project, in which Japan’s Inpex is the majority shareholder and operator.

The Ichthys LNG project began shipping natural gas to Japan last month and is set to reinforce Australia’s position as Japan’s main energy supplier.

According to some analysts, the rapprochement between Tokyo and Canberra – and the tribute to the victims of Japan’s aggression – must be seen as a way both seek to contain China.

Beijing is very active in the Pacific region, in economic and military terms, and this is viewed with suspicion by both Japan and Australia.

Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, seen as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s attempt to revive the ancient Silk Road, includes a huge network of infrastructures, railways, roads and sea lanes - the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Silk Maritime Road – as well as gas and oil pipelines to connect China and the Far East with the rest of Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean.

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