Japan signals interest in AUKUS defense tech partnership

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Japan is interested in discussing cooperation with the United States, Australia and Britain on advanced military technology, an official said Wednesday, signaling Tokyo could become more involved in the trio’s landmark security partnership AUKUS.

An official from Japan’s embassy in Australia told AFP that the government supported AUKUS’ efforts in the Indo-Pacific region and was looking at how to deepen cooperation.

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They added Japan was aware of discussions between Australia, the UK and the United States on a range of issues, including Artificial Intelligence and underwater capabilities.

“Japan is interested in the possibility of technical cooperation in the field of advanced capabilities, and so will continue to strengthen cooperation with Australia, the US and the UK,” the embassy said in a statement.

“[Japan] will continue to strengthen cooperation with its important defense and security partners Australia, the US and the UK in order to realize a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’.”

AUKUS was established in 2021 and has two main practical goals: So-called Pillar I, aims to provide Australia with a fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines.

Pillar II focuses on developing advanced warfighting capabilities such as AI, undersea drones, and hypersonic and electronic warfare technologies.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will travel to Washington next month, where he could announce the country’s collaboration on the security partnership, Japan’s Nikkei reported on Saturday quoting unnamed US officials.

A UK House of Commons briefing, prepared last year, found New Zealand, Japan and South Korea would be “ideal candidates” to cooperate on Pillar II.

Australian officials briefed their New Zealand counterparts in February about the program.

“This was a background briefing for information only and not intended to address the issue of New Zealand joining Pillar II,” said the country’s Ministry of Defense Deputy Secretary Anton Youngman.

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