MOSCOW, August 13 (RIA Novosti) - Australia is currently in talks to acquire submarine technology from Japan, as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe increases the country’s defense budget while easing restrictions on defense exports.
“Japan is changing its constitution, which frees them up,” Australia’s defense minister, David Johnston said in an interview with Bloomberg Wednesday.
“Operationally we’ve been doing a lot of things with them in terms of peace-keeping. Exchanging technology is a very important part of taking it to the next level,” Johnston added.
Due to the recent territorial conflict with China in the South China Sea, Japan has been reinterpreting the US-imposed pacifist constitution to allow Japanese troops to defend other countries. Australia, an ally of Japan and the United States, plans to focus on Japan and South Korea, its second and third-largest trade partners, in order to boost Australia’s military capacity, Johnston told Bloomberg.
“There’s a huge opportunity, because there’s a very big investment by both of us in air combat capability,” Johnston said.
“We can do exercises together, we can exchange views on how to sustain the aircraft, how to make repairs, and generally get as much value out of the platform as we both want to do. Leveraging off each other’s capabilities is a very significant part of the interaction.”
In addition to its investment in air combat, Australia, led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott is in the process of building new Collins-class submarines. Both Australia and Japan, which is also invested in the submarines, are in preliminary talks to acquire the diesel-electric expertise they require from Germany, France, the United States and the United Kingdom, Johnston said.
Australia also plans to share information with Japan on F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Abbott announced Australia’s commitment to the controversial Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fights (JSF), bringing Australia’s order of the aircraft to 72.
In the midst of Australia’s new military ties to Japan, it is still attempting to sustain a balance in its economic ties with China and the United States. China is for the first time to be involved in trilateral military exercises with the United States and Australia in northern Australia, a development Johnston described as “exciting.”
Johnston confirmed that official US-Australia security talks took place in Sydney on Tuesday with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. The nations agreed to extend their force posture agreement for another 25 years and bolster the number of Marines in Sydney to 2,500 by 2020 from the current 1,200.