Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh and his iron ore chief Andrew Harding (far right) flank Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Premier Colin Barnett .

PM says Aust, Japan now better friends

Japan and Australia are officially even better friends, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and visiting Japanese PM Shinzo Abe swapping compliments at an official dinner in Perth last night.

Mr Abbott, who earlier yesterday accompanied Mr Abe on a visit to Rio Tinto's joint Australian-Japanese iron mine, West Angelas, in the Pilbara, said the partnership with Japan had deepened in extraordinary ways in the past few days.

He said Mr Abe was his friend.

"But more importantly I can say with certainty and confidence that Japan is Australia's true friend and that Australia is Japan's true friend. We should never set limits on what we can achieve," Mr Abbott said at the dinner last night.

Mr Abe said he was much impressed with the vast size of Australia and the five hours it took to fly from Canberra to Western Australia.

"I was able to discuss a lot of topics with Mr Abbott and so five hours I think even made both countries' relationship much closer," he said.

Mr Abe said Australia had lifted the relationship with Japan with the signing of agreements on economic partnership and defence cooperation.

He said his grandfather visited Australia 57 years ago and signed the agreement of commerce.

"Since then both countries became true friends," Mr Abe said.

"I came away with the impression this time that the Australia people are very much convinced that Japan is a true friend."


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Japan is a key customer for Western Australia as well as a major investor in WA. Japan's move away from nuclear power is very beneficial to our LNG market. A big positive for Western Australia.

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