Japan Australia consider submarine deal that could rattle China
TOKYO/SYDNEY(Reuters) - Japan will get the chance to pursue an unprecedented militaryexport deal when its defense and foreign ministers meet their Australiancounterparts in Tokyo next month.
Japanis considering selling submarine technology to Australia perhaps even a fleetof fully engineered, stealthy vessels, according to Japanese officials. Sourceson both sides say the discussions so far have encouraged a willingness to speedup talks.
Anyagreement would take months to negotiate and remains far from certain, but evena deal for Japan to supply technology would likely run to billions of dollarsand represent a major portion of Australia's overall $37 billion submarineprogram.
Itwould also be bound to turn heads in China.
Expertssay a Japan-Australia deal would send a signal to Asia's emerging superpower ofJapan's willingness, under nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to exportarms to a region wary of China's growing naval strength, especially its pursuitof territorial claims in the East and South China seas.
A dealwould also help connect Japanese arms-makers like Mitsubishi Heavy Industriesand Kawasaki Heavy Industries to the world market for big, sophisticatedweaponry, a goal Abe sees as consistent with Japanese security.