Japan has staged its first ever appearance at an Australian defence industry exposition, with 10 companies exhibiting their technology in an indication of Japan’s greater willingness to promote its defence wares to Australia and the region.
Among those exhibiting at the Indo-Pacific Maritime Exposition in Sydney this week were Mitsubishi Heavy Industries promoting its new Future Multi-mission Frigate design, IHI Corporation spruiking its unmanned underwater vehicles and Subaru Corporation with its UH-2 utility helicopter.
Heading the delegation for Japan’s inaugural Australian defence expo was Vice Admiral Imayoshi Shinichi, Director General of Naval Systems in Japan’s Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA).
“Yes it is the first time. I think we should use these sorts of opportunities and promote the technological capability that Japan has,” he told ADM at the Indo-Pacific exposition.
“Australia and Japan are special strategic partners. We are two of the Quad countries and we also both important countries in the Indo Pacific region and in that context and in that context, I would like to see the relationship between Japan and Australia deepen further.”
Despite, the close defence relation with Japan, Australia has never purchased any Japanese defence equipment. Japanese submarines were considered in the contest for Australia’s new conventional subs but lost out the France’s Naval Group.
For much of Japan’s post-war history, defence exports were proscribed under the country’s pacificist constitution. That began to change under former Pime Minister Shinzo Abe in moves for Japan to play a greater role in regional security.
Under Japan’s new national security announced in December, the country affirmed it needed it needed to contribute more to global security, including export of defence equipment.
“It could be seen as the Japanese policy changing in a big way. To date Japan was a position where we couldn’t really bring ourselves out to the international market in this area.
"We decided if we were able to come to an exhibition of defence equipment overseas….then it would give us an opportunity to get an understanding ourselves as to the level technology we have, the capability of our equipment and get to know for ourselves what our position is."
“It is more important now to connect ourselves with supply chains between countries and have manufacturing and technology and so forth more open.”
Japan was represented at recent defence equipment exhibitions in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
“I personally think that it is important for Japan to exhibit. Depending on the country, we have to decide whether or not to take up the opportunity to attend as appropriate. I think we should be exhibiting as much as possible.”