Abe government approves sharing of submarine technology to Australia, a first for weaponry
Miwa Sachiko, Imano Shinobu - Asahi Shimbun Monday, 18 May 2015 (translation is mine from the original Japanese article)
The Abe government confirmed on Monday that it will share technology related to the SDF’s latest generation of submarine class, the “Soryū”, with Australia ahead of a joint development in a new class of submarine based on the Soryū. At a meeting of the National Security Committee held on the same day, a decision was made to participate in the selection process for joint development. Expectations are that Australia will choose Japan’s model, and if this is formally adopted, it will be the first time that military technology will have been shared using the ‘Three Principles for Transfer of Military Equipment” that replaced the previous “Three Principles on Arms Exports” abolished in April last year.
Participation in the selection process illustrates how cooperation between the US, Japan and Australia is being used to confront the growing maritime power of China. This has also been reflected in the Abe government’s new national security legislation that was presented to the Diet on the 15th, and the revised “US-Japan Defence Cooperation Guidelines” revealed last month.
The guidelines have made much of the “search for opportunities for cooperation with partners in relation to military equipment and technology”. This not only applies to the US-Japan bilateral relationship, but means that such opportunities can be pursued with other third party nations such as Australia. In order to increase the ability to contain China, the SDF will deepen its relations not only with the US military, but that of Australia as well.
Australia is currently examining how to replace its submarine fleet by the 2030s and has shown interest in Japan’s submarine technology. At the trilateral leader’s meeting held in Australia in November last year, PM Abe, President Obama, and Australian PM Tony Abbott agreed on a policy to “deepen cooperation in security and defence” with an eye on China’s maritime advances. PM Abbott touched upon the subject of Japan’s submarine technology, and said that “cooperation between the US, Japan, and Australia is essential”.
On the 6th of May, Defence Minister Nakatani Gen held a telephone conversation with Australian Defence Minister Andrews, in which Australia formally invited Japan to participate in the submarine selection process.
As a result of the NSC’s decision, Japan will provide Australia with all the necessary information it needs to make a decision on submarines. It is the first time technological information related to weaponry has been shared since the “Three Principles on Arms Exports” policy was abolished. The NSC’s decision was based on the fact that as submarines themselves could not be manufactured based purely on information provided by Japan, and that as Australia had given its assurances that the information would not be passed to any third party countries, there was no risk to Japan’s security.
Both France and Germany are also involved in the selection process, however there is a strong chance that Japan will be chosen.