Prime Minister Scott Morrison has touched down in Tokyo ahead of a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga.
Mr Morrison will be the first foreign minister to meet Mr Suga in Japan since he took over from Shinzo Abe in September.
A landmark military pact will be atop the agenda when the two leaders meet.
The “reciprocal access agreement” would set out the terms and conditions for the Australian and Japanese militaries to undertake exercises on each other’s soil.
One of the sticking points of the agreement – which has been in negotiation since 2014 – has been Australia objecting to its defence force members being subject to the death penalty in Japan.
If signed, it would be the first such deal for Japan since the 1960 status of forces agreement with the United States.
Depending on the final terms, it may require the Australian parliament to pass implementing laws, and it would be scrutinised by the treaties committee.
It would also need the approval of Japan’s parliament, which is meeting at the same time as Mr Morrison’s visit.
The visit comes as China announced it would conduct military training in the South China Sea from Tuesday to the end of November.
Mr Morrison and Mr Suga are also expected to discuss the coronavirus response and the potential for a travel bubble between the two countries.
But the bubble would be some time away, given Japan still has over 1000 cases a day.
As well, the leaders will talk about the impact of the foreign policy priorities of US president-elect Joe Biden.
Mr Suga was chief cabinet secretary to former prime minister Abe for eight years and as such is expected to maintain continuity of Japan’s foreign policy.
The prime minister will also meet with a group of Japanese business leaders to discuss the export of Australian hydrogen into Japan.
As well, he will meet with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach to discuss how the Games can be held next year.
On his return, the prime minister will go into isolation at The Lodge for 14 days, which will also mean he will have to video link in to parliament when it sits later in the month.