As this blog has stated in the past, any indication that the ADF might be able to benefit from Japan's technological expertise is a promising development in Australia-Japan security relations. Any exchange of information pertinent to technology requires a dedicated presence in the partner country in order to ensure compatability with domestic defence technology, which explains why both sides have agreed to a DOD representative being housed within Japan's Ministry of Defence. Moreover, if part of this exchange of personnel results in submarine consultations, then the plans for the next generation of submarines proposed for the RAN might receive the level of advice that would enable the submarines to be manufactured in Adelaide by domestic industries without recourse to European designs yet which would still guarantee their reliability. It would, in other words, be a major coup for the Labor Party, offset any potential criticism from domestic defence industries about the lack of investment in locally built equipment, and secure the foundations for the development of an Australian submarine fleet.
This is all conjecture, of course, however given the rapidity with which the federal government is pursuing talks with Japan, it does lead one to speculate that this may indeed be the path being tread by Minister Smith. Only time will tell if Japan becomes actively involved in the next generation of submarines plan, but if technology will become a focal point of the defence relationship for the foreseeable future, then it is a conclusion backed up by a fair degree of certainty.