Japan has urged Australia to award a contract to build its new $50-billion submarine fleet, reports SMH. Japan, which is offering a variant of its 4,000 ton Soryu submarine, is competing against rival bids from Germany and France for the contract.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has delivered a blunt message to Canberra that only its bid to build Australia's new $50 billion submarine fleet can provide the crucial "strategic" element.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) chief executive Shunichi Miyanaga, the bid leader has warned of the “risk” in retro-fitting a nuclear submarine with a diesel engine as proposed by the French bid, and that scaling up a smaller design would create technical “challenges”, says a report in the Australian.
MHI would be willing to bid for future warship contracts in Australia and to launch satellites for the Australian government or telecommunications companies
to augment its campaign for the $20 billion submarines contract.
Japan emphasised the strategic imperatives of such a deal as both countries seek closer ties amid growing security tensions in the region.
Meanwhile, Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: "Australia will weather global and regional volatility, but that means our relationship with trusted partners like Japan is even more important."
Washington is encouraging closer security cooperation between Japan and Australia as it looks to its Asian allies to shoulder a bigger security role as China's rise alters the balance of power in the region.
The Financial Times reported earlier this month that Washington was concerned about technology "leakage" of advanced weapons systems from the French consortium.
A decision on the 40-year construction and maintenance contract is expected mid-year after the release of Australia's new Defence White Paper.