Can Japan contribute to AUKUS?

Author name: 
Aurelia George Mulgan

Following public advocacy by former Japanese prime minister Taro Aso, Japan’s potential involvement in the two key pillars of the AUKUS partnership –– acquiring nuclear submarines and the sharing of ‘advanced capabilities’ –– has come under scrutiny. The logistics of Japan’s potential acquisition of US nuclear-powered submarines would at the very least significantly delay Japan’s formal participation in the AUKUS agreement by way of Pillar 1, while the political context in which Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are currently operating would complicate matters even more. However, the drawbacks of nuclear submarines notwithstanding, Japan’s domestic R&D advancements and technology-sharing development in fields considered ‘non-traditional security’, as well as reform of its security clearance system and unique position in a deteriorating security climate –– underscore the case for close collaboration between Japan and the AUKUS triad on Pillar 2 advanced capabilities. As both AUKUS partners and the Japanese government continue to explore avenues for deeper cooperation, this paper assesses Japan’s technological advancements and strategic priorities against the criteria for participation in AUKUS as the country sits poised to make further significant contributions to defence capability-building and innovation in the Indo-Pacific.

Updated:  20 May 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Services Team