US, UK, Australia consider Japan's cooperation in AUKUS security pact
US, UK, Australia consider Japan's cooperation in AUKUS security pact
US, UK, Australia consider Japan's cooperation in AUKUS security pact
by DZRH News10 April 2024
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak deliver remarks on the Australia - United Kingdom - U.S. (AUKUS) partnership, after a trilateral meeting, at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, California U.S. March 13, 2023. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

By William James and David Brunnstrom

LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Britain, the U.S. and Australia said on Monday they are considering working with Japan through their AUKUS security pact, despite U.S. export-control restrictions that challenge the existing partners' efforts to counter China's power in the Indo-Pacific region.

Britain said consultations on future cooperation between the three AUKUS partners and other nations including Japan were set to begin this year.

A summit in Washington between U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday is expected to address Japan's possible future involvement in AUKUS "advanced capabilities" projects, but officials and experts say obstacles remain given the need for Japan to introduce better cyber defenses and stricter rules for guarding secrets.


AUKUS, formed by the three countries in 2021, is part of efforts to push back against China's growing influence.

Its first stage, or "pillar," is designed to deliver nuclear-powered attack submarines to Australia. The statement did not propose Japan would be involved in this part of the pact.

However, a second pillar is focused on delivering advanced capabilities and sharing technologies across a range of areas including quantum computing, undersea, hypersonic, artificial intelligence and cyber technology.

"Recognising Japan's strengths and its close bilateral defense partnerships with all three countries, we are considering cooperation with Japan on AUKUS Pillar II advanced capability projects," Britain, the U.S. and Australia said in joint statement published by the British government.


It said AUKUS members had long been clear on their intent to involve other countries in Pillar II, and that it would take into account factors such as:

"Technological innovation, financing, industrial strengths, ability to adequately protect sensitive data and information, and impact on promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region."

China has called the AUKUS pact dangerous and warned it could spur a regional arms race.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said earlier on Monday that nothing had been decided about cooperation with AUKUS.



Pillar II of AUKUS already faces headwinds due to U.S. restrictions on sharing technological secrets with Australia and Britain, two of Washington's most trusted partners.

Bill Greenwalt, a former senior Pentagon official for industrial policy, said it was premature to discuss Japanese involvement.

"If we can't integrate with the UK and Australia on something as important as AUKUS, there is no chance to do so with Japan whose security apparatus is still in a peacetime mode and immature," said Greenwalt, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.


In February, Japan said it would introduce economic security legislation to allow it to classify more information as confidential and ask employees at companies with access to it to undergo security clearance checks.

It has also said it will bolster cyber security, including a pledge to create a 20,000-strong cyber security force and write legislation that would allow it to engage in active cyber security defense aimed at eliminating potential online attacks.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, a key architect of U.S. Indo-Pacific policy and a proponent of wider involvement in Pillar II of AUKUS, including by Japan, said last week the U.S. was encouraging Japan to do more to protect intellectual property and hold officials accountable for secrets.

"It's fair to say that Japan has taken some of those steps, but not all of them," Campbell said.


(Writing by William James, additional reporting by Muvija M; Editing by Kate Holton, Don Durfee and Paul Simao)

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