by Will Koulouris
SYDNEY, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in town on Saturday for talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the latter's Kirribilli House residence in Sydney.
Trade, security and tourism were on the agenda in the closed door dialogue; but the two leaders were part of a larger delegation earlier in the day, which included New South Wales Premier Mike Baird and federal Trade Minister Steven Ciobo, along with business leaders, to discuss economic opportunities between the two nations.
While addressing members of the delegation, Ciobo expressed hoped for the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by all 12 countries, and stressed Australia's commitment to ensuring free trade is realized.
With all the focus on the economy and security, there were some who argued that Turnbull should have added to the agenda the current illegal whaling Japanese fishermen are conducting in Australian waters in the Southern Ocean.
Speaking to Xinhua, Australian Greens Senator Nick McKim said he rejects suggestions that Turnbull should avoid the delicate subject in order to protect the bilateral relationship, and wants Turnbull's strong border stance extended to protecting Australia's waters from illegal whalers.
"Mr Turnbull has again shown he does not have the courage to speak up for the magnificent marine creatures being illegally slaughtered by Japan. If Australia's relationship with Japan is as strong as Mr Turnbull claims, it provides the perfect opportunity for disagreements to be raised and addressed," McKim said.
"As for Mr Abe, he should ensure that the $1m Australian Federal Court fine is paid and show some respect to the ICJ decision," he said.
An Australian court in 2015 has fined a Japanese whaling company 1 million Australian dollars (about 750,000 U.S. dollars) for whale hunting within an Australian whale sanctuary.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) had ordered Japan in 2014 to stop the "annual massacre of whales in the Antarctic Ocean."
Japanese state media reported earlier in the day that there were a few key points that Abe was looking to discuss with Turnbull, including making the military pact between the two nations more robust, discussing freedom of navigation measures, and ensuring the TPP comes into effect.
Both leaders held a joint press conference outside Kirribilli House after the meeting, where they reaffirmed their commitment to cooperation.
"The key focus of our discussions were strategic and economic, we've confirmed our commitment to the rule of law, free trade, and open markets in our region," Turnbull said, adding that "we have recommitted to creating, to consolidating...a 21st century relationship."
Abe echoed his counterpart's sentiments, saying the talks were meaningful and both nations have confirmed their intention to "maintain solid cooperation with the incoming Trump administration which will be taking office soon."
Abe's Australia visit is part of a week long Asian excursion, which had taken him to the Philippines. He will continue his trip to Indonesia and Vietnam.
Abe is expected back in Japan on Tuesday.