PM�s invitation to Abe risks Chinese ire

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be invited to sit inside Australia's premier defence and intelligence committee next week in a highly symbolic gesture that will irritate China.

Mr Abe, who has won the Australian Government's backing to overturn Japan's pacifist defence policy, will be asked by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to sit in on the National Security Committee in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Abe extended the same honour to Mr Abbott during his trip to north Asia in April. Mr Abbott became the first foreign leader to address Japan's National Security Council.

The leaders will sign the free trade agreement the two struck in April, as well as a defence co-operation agreement involving Japanese and Australian defence forces holding joint military exercises.

Mr Abe will address Federal Parliament on Tuesday and be guest of honour at a dinner in Parliament's Great Hall before flying to the Pilbara with Mr Abbott to visit a Rio Tinto iron ore mine that uses driverless trains.

Mr Abe will bring a delegation of more than 30 Japanese executives from the resources, energy and technology sectors.

He will spend Wednesday night in Perth, beginning with a special dinner hosted by Premier Colin Barnett.

Tensions have been escalating between Tokyo and Beijing in recent months over disputed islands and waters in the East China Sea.

Officially, Australia does not take sides in the dispute but it has given tacit approval to Tokyo's decision to reconfigure its military to confront regional threats.

Last year, China told Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop to butt out of the brewing crisis after Australia took the unusual step of calling in China's ambassador to Canberra to air concern about Beijing's declaration of an "air defence zone" over waters claimed as Japanese territory.

This year China and Japan have been involved in high-risk confrontations, with Beijing scrambling fighter jets to buzz Japanese surveillance aircraft.

Japan is Australia's second-biggest trading partner behind China. Trade with Japan is worth almost $70 billion a year.

The West Australian

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