‘Logical’ for Japan to partner with AUKUS security pact

Andrew Brown |

Japan may partner with Australia, the US and the UK on some defence technology projects under AUKUS.
Japan may partner with Australia, the US and the UK on some defence technology projects under AUKUS.

Japan is a “logical” country for Australia to work with as part of the AUKUS security pact alongside the US and the UK, Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy says.

The three countries involved in AUKUS said in a joint statement the pact was considering working with Japan as part of advanced capability projects.

While the security pact, set up in 2021 as part of efforts to push back against Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific, was designed to deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, it also focuses on technology sharing between Australia, the UK and the US.

Mr Conroy said AUKUS countries were open with working with like-minded partners on technology sharing projects as part of the security pact.

He said Japan was one of the closest allies of Australia, along with the other two partners in AUKUS.

“Japan is a close bilateral defence partner with all three AUKUS nations there’s a strong foundation of trust and cooperation, and Japan is the forefront of developing cutting edge defence capabilities,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

“It’s got one of the most advanced economies in the world so it is a logical country for us to partner with.”

However, Mr Conroy was quick to downplay suggestions Japan working alongside AUKUS nations as part of technology sharing would mean the Asian nation would formally join the security pact

“This is collaborating on technology development on the AUKUS Pillar II on a project-by-project basis, it’s not about Japan joining AUKUS, it’s not about Japan being part of the Five Eyes intelligence community,” he said.

“We’re always interested in partnering with other countries where it benefits both the AUKUS partners and the country in question.”

The joint statement said AUKUS had long been clear in its intent to work alongside other countries as part of capability projects.

“Recognising Japan’s strengths and its close bilateral defence partnerships with all three countries we are considering cooperation with Japan on AUKUS Pillar II advanced capability projects,” the statement said.

US President Joe Biden will hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday, where the AUKUS agreement will likely be discussed.

Opposition foreign spokesman Simon Birmingham said Japan was the perfect partner, but stressed the importance of AUKUS in ensuring nuclear submarines were delivered to Australia, following reports of delays to the vessels.

“It’s important to make sure there is 110 per cent commitment across three AUKUS partners for the delivery of (nuclear submarines) along the timelines that are outlined,” he told Sky News.

“It’s important that everybody keeps the foot down on the pedal to keep things going there.”