TOKYO: Key ministers from Japan and Australia will meet later Wednesday to beef up their defence relations, including a possible future submarine deal, as a rising China stirs tension in the Asia-Pacific region.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera will play host in Tokyo to Julie Bishop and David Johnston, their respective opposite numbers, for the fifth round of so-called “2+2” talks. The two US allies are eager to discuss the future transfer of Japanese submarine technology to Australia, with Canberra needing to replace its fleet of stealth subs over the coming years at a reported cost of up to US$37 billion. The potential deal, which is some way from being finalised, would boost Japan’s defence industry, while also further cementing relations both economically and militarily.
At their meeting, the ministers will follow up on a free trade pact and a security deal reached in April between Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. The two leaders also agreed on joint basic research for marine hydrodynamics to be applied for construction of future military vessels and submarines. Abe, who reportedly is planning to visit Abbott in Australia next month, has argued that Japan must play a bigger role on the global stage and has pushed to loosen restrictions on when its well-equipped armed forces can act.
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