By Umut Civaner
For the last year there had been talk of Australia buying Japanese stealth submarine technology as reported in The Diplomat.
This could work in the two countries’ mutual interest, as on the one hand Japan seeks to expand its arms and security sector, and on the other Australia needs new submarines, for the production of which it had asked Germany and France to place bids alongside Japan. Significant progress has been made since then, especially in the last few months as ties between Tokyo and Canberra have grown closer.
Last month, according to The Japan Times, the Japanese National Security Council approved the disclosure of the Soryu-class submarine’s sensitive technical data to Australia following the approval of Japan’s bid to build Australian submarines. The Japanese Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani stated in The Japan Times that for Japan, “Australia is a strategic partner that shares common values and security interests” in the region. The deal is expected to amount to $40 billion for 12 of the Soryu-class submarines.
Recently set out on an official visit to Japan, Australian Minister of Defense Kevin Andrews discussed two major agenda items with his Japanese counterpart and other officials as previously reported in ABC News, namely, the submarine deal and the heightening of Australian-Japanese defense cooperation in the South China Sea amid a rise in Chinese adventurism and land reclamation in the disputed maritime region.
The two Defense Ministers pledged on Wednesday to enhance their cooperation and defense ties to counter pressing issues in the region, with tensions in the South China Sea being one of them. Nakatani emphasized to The Japan Times the need to seek bilateral and multilateral solutions and to act “in accordance with international law.”
Yesterday, following the visit to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries shipyards where the Soryu-class submarines are manufactured, Andrews concluded his inaugural visit to Japan.