Shinzo Abe has used an historic visit to Australia's Federal Parliament to put China on notice, declaring that Japan would join the US and Australia in keeping regional order and safeguarding peace.
But the Japanese Prime Minister has reignited the whaling wars, saying it was vital that "indispensable" scientific research continue in apparent defiance of an international court ruling that it stop.
Mr Abe, who will today tour one of Rio Tinto's iron ore mines in the Pilbara before a reception in Perth tonight, last week pushed through a major reinterpretation to Japan's postwar constitution to allow it to fight in overseas wars.
Australia and the US have backed Japan becoming more militarily active in the region and Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday urged the international community to give Japan a "fair go".
"Japan should not be judged on its actions of 70-odd years ago," Mr Abbott said. "The lessons of the past have been well and truly learnt."
The Japanese leader said he had discussed with Mr Abbott China's attempts to "unilaterally alter the status quo" in the region.
"China should share and accept the international norms and play a concerted role in the region," Mr Abe said. He did not mention China by name during his earlier speech to Parliament but said allies needed to guard against regional threats.
"We will now join up in a scrum, just like in rugby, to nurture a regional and world order and to safeguard peace," Mr Abe said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop told _The West Australian _ that neither Japan nor the US was asking Australia to choose them over China.
"The US recognises that its relationship is one of the, if not the most significant relationships in the world and both the US and Japan recognises what is at stake if there were to be any form of conflict with China," she said.
"They are not asking us to choose and they recognise that China is our largest trading partner."
Several hundred people waving Chinese and South Korean flags protested outside Parliament decrying Mr Abe's militaristic interpretation of the Japanese constitution.
Asked whether Japan was gearing up to resume whaling, Mr Abe said Japan would abide by the International Court of Justice's decision but would continue its whaling "research".
"Japan is looking at international law on scientific grounds and will engage in research of whaling in order to collect the indispensable scientific information to manage whale resources," he said.
Mr Abbott said Australia and Japan respectfully disagreed on the issue of whaling.
The two leaders signed a free trade agreement seven years in the making, giving Japan more access to Australian agricultural products such as beef and fish, while reducing prices of Japanese goods.