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AUKUS alliance considers defense collaboration with Japan

AUKUS alliance considers defense collaboration with Japan

Washington/Tokyo/Sydney (EFE) – The AUKUS defense alliance of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States is considering including Japan in some military projects, which would reinforce the initiatives of the group to counter China’s military pressure in Asia, the US Department of Defense reported on Monday.

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“Recognizing Japan’s strengths and its close bilateral defense partnerships with all three countries, we are considering cooperation with Japan on AUKUS Pillar 2 advanced capability projects,” the United States’ Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said in a press briefing.

The Japanese government on Tuesday welcomed its possible inclusion in the pact’s technological aspects.

Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said at a press conference that Japan recognizes the importance of AUKUS, and will carry out the necessary measures to strengthen defensive capabilities.

The minister also highlighted the importance of the alliance for “peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.”

In Sydney, Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters that “Japan is a natural candidate” for collaboration with the alliance.

Japan is already part of the Quad security group, which includes the US, Australia and India.

“We’ve already stepped up our defense relationship with Japan … But when we look at Pillar II, the project-by-project approach is there,” he said.

However, Albanese ruled out adding Japan to the alliance, saying “what is not proposed is to expand the membership of AUKUS.”

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FILE PHOTO : Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. PHOTO : EFE-EPA FILE

The group’s announcement coincides with the US state visit of Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, which will be focused on defense cooperation and reinforcing this strategic alliance in the face of China’s expansion in its Asian area of influence.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden will meet with Kishida and on Thursday he will receive the Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos. The three leaders will hold a trilateral meeting focused on counteracting China’s military strength in neighboring waters and bordering the economic zones of both countries.

The alliance on Monday also reported progress in its plans to reinforce Australia’s defense with nuclear submarines, a project for which they have chosen the companies BAE Systems and ASC Pty.

The defense ministers of the three nations – Lloyd Austin (US), Grant Shapps (UK) and Richard Marles (Australia) – issued a joint statement in which they celebrated the progress of the first year aiming to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

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“Our three countries seek to maximize the strategic benefits of the AUKUS partnership to support security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. Australia’s acquisition of a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability is a necessary response to the rapidly evolving strategic environment,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Since the end of World War II, Japan has limited its weapons development to the defensive capabilities of its territory, but it maintains an advanced defense industry and has very close cooperation with the US.

Meanwhile, China is expanding its reach in the waters of the South China Sea and around Taiwan, raising tensions with its neighbors.

The AUKUS pact, signed in 2021 and considered by China as a threat to regional stability, includes the acquisition and development of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia and aims to reinforce the strategic presence of its partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

In this region rich in resources and through which most of the world’s trade passes, several conflicts and areas in territorial disputes with Beijing remain active, such as in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. EFE

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