As Japan and Australia continue to improve bilateral ties, defense and foreign ministers from both countries have been meeting on a regular basis. On one such meeting next month in Tokyo, Japan will have a chance to pursue what would be a monumental defense deal with Australia – the export of Japan’s submarine technology which may well cause China to take notice.
Australia is set to upgrade its current submarine fleet, now composed of aging Collins-class submarines. The target upgrade is quite possibly Japan’s ultra-quiet diesel-electric Soryu class submarines made by Mitsubishi Heavy and Kawasaki Heavy – stealthy, non-nuclear powered vessels that have a theoretical range of more than 11,000 kilometers (over 6,500 miles), allowing Australia to potentially project their influence deep into the Indian Ocean. The main issues with this probable deal is partly on Japan’s lap, and partly on Australia’s. Canberra is wary that the deal may serve as political ammunition for China and turn the nation aggressive against Australia. Australian National University’s strategic studies professor Hugh White believes the nation would be taking a chance on aligning itself with Japan over submarine technology, based on how it could be viewed by China.
Japan, on the other hand, has its own problems with exporting military technology, but it is an opportunity that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to open up at the moment. Abe is trying to weaken the self-imposed postwar ban that has Japan’s hands tied to not being able to export military technology of any kind, along with a re-interpretation of a similarly self-imposed ban on sending its military forces to help allies. The technology export is political dynamite, and could be seen by others as a very big “leak” in sharing and exporting Japanese military technology to another country. That being said, even just the technology transfer would mean billions of dollars in profit for the country — and more if Australia commissioned Japan to build the actual submarines.
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan