Australia’s defence minister has taken the rare step of welcoming Japan’s increased spending on self-defence forces and its $340 billion build-up of military wares over the next five years.

Christopher Pyne acknowledged it was probably the first time an Australian defence minister had responded to such spending by Japan in a positive way.

‘Australia strongly supports Japan’s efforts to build and modernise their sovereign capabilities, and to play a strategic role in the Indo-Pacific that is commensurate with their great economic strength,’ Mr Pyne told a security conference in Singapore on Monday.