The U.S., the U.K., and Australia sounded out Japan about its joining the “AUKUS” Indo-Pacific security framework, sources informed Sankei on April 12. It seems that behind the feeler is the three partners’ desire to utilize Japanese technology in developing hypersonic weapons and strengthening electronic warfare capabilities. While some in the Japanese government are positive about joining AUKUS, some want to carefully assess the effect of participation because Japan has bilateral cooperation frameworks with each of the three countries.
According to several people connected to the government, the three countries, the U.S., U.K., and Australia, have informally sounded out Japan about its joining AUKUS. The incorporation of Japanese technology could be expected to yield synergistic effects in such advanced fields as cyberspace, artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum technology, in addition to hypersonic weapons and electronic warfare capabilities.
In his address at the National Defense Academy graduation ceremony on March 27, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio mentioned the U.K. and Australia as two countries other than the U.S. who are partners in aiming for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP).” Japan has bilateral “strategic partnership agreements” with the U.K. and Australia and has signed defense equipment and technology transfer agreements with each of the two countries.
Japan has led the effort on FOIP. Government officials who are willing for Japan to participate in AUKUS argue that a framework centered on the U.S. and its allies is necessary to counter the rise of China. On the other hand, Japan has bilateral cooperative frameworks with the U.S., U.K., and Australia. There are some areas, such as nuclear submarines, in which Japan would not be able to participate. Some think that Japan should cooperate with AUKUS on a case by case basis for the time being.
AUKUS is an acronym formed from Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. Japan’s participation would perhaps result in an acronym such as “JAUKUS.”