Australia is set to embrace an announcement from Japan that it means to take a more muscular security role in Asia – a move that is likely to put further strain on Tokyo's already brittle relations with Beijing.
Late on Friday night Australian time, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was reportedly set to deliver the keynote speech at the important Shangri-La dialogue in Singapore, pushing his nation as part of a counterweight to China along with ally the United States and partners in the region.
Defence Minister David Johnston is due to speak on Saturday at the dialogue. According to speech notes, Senator Johnston will say that Australia "welcomes Japan's efforts to re-examine its security and defence policies so that it can make a greater contribution to regional peace and security".
While Mr Abe has for some time signalled an intention to move beyond Japan's post-war pacifist security policy, his Singapore speech will underscore the sense that a coalition of countries is gathering around a shared concern about China's growing assertiveness.
Beijing has lately been asserting itself in potentially dangerous rivalries with several neighbours, notably Japan, over disputed islands in the East China Sea and Vietnam over oilfields in the South China Sea.
Senator Johnston will reiterate that Australia takes no position on the competing territorial claims but says in a warning to China that "the use of force or coercion to unilaterally alter the status quo in the East China Sea and South China Sea is not acceptable".
Michael Wesley, a strategic and international affairs expert at the Australian National University, said Japan's new posture likely meant it would be prepared to take part in military actions alongside partners and allies, notably the US.
While it was no surprise that Japan was "normalising" as a military power – nor that Australia should support it – the move would add to anxieties in Beijing, he said.
"Japan's strategy is that by normalising, they'll be seen by other regional powers worried by the rise of China as a useful security partner," he said.
"The counterbalance to China will come from a range of concerned countries around China's peripheries."
Describing the tapestry of disputes in Asia as "pretty bloody tense", Professor Wesley said some in China were worried that their neighbours were binding together – including coalitions around the US, but also within Asia itself.
"There are those in China that worry that there is a coalition developing," he said.
Rory Medcalf, director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute, said Mr Abe would be signalling "that a new Japanese willingness is there for the common good in Asia".
He said Australia's endorsement was unlikely to be controversial. However Japan's position would still seize attention in the region, in part because Asian countries may see Tokyo stepping up in the wake of what many regard as a disappointing foreign policy speech by US President Barack Obama this week that little about the so-called "pivot to Asia".