The former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has welcomed the recently announced AUKUS security pact between Australia, the UK and US.
Abe also said Japan should seek to work with AUKUS members on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing, the Guardian newspaper has reported.
It should be remembered in September the landmark defence and security agreement called AUKUS, was signed between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The AUKUS agreement was historic, as it saw the US and UK for the first time agree to share their highly-classified nuclear propulsion submarine technology with Australia, so it can build a fleet of at least eight nuclear-powered, attack class submarines, to counter the growing threat of China in the Indo-Pacific region.
But AUKUS is much more than just submarines.
It also allows the UK and the US to share with Australia their expertise in cybersecurity, AI, quantum computing, and underwater drones.
With China rapidly increasing its military forces in the region, and using increasingly threatening language and bullying actions against its neighbours, Japan has reluctantly decided it has to increase its defensive capabilities and is seeking partnerships with like minded nations.
In a virtual address to the Sydney Dialogue on Friday where he was interviewed by former Australian prime minister John Howard, Abe noted that AUKUS was not just about submarines.
“I welcome the creation of AUKUS,” said Abe. “It is extremely important to promote multilayered efforts for peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.”
“I think that Japan should engage in the cooperation under the AUKUS in such areas as cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, and quantum technologies,” he said.
Japan is one of four members of another alliance, called the Quad, made up Japan, Australia, the US and India.
Abe has also backed this alliance, but he did not elaborate on Friday about what the AUKUS co-operation would look like other than calling for Tokyo to be involved in certain aspects of it.
Abe argued that external cyber threats were “growing day by day”.
Amid the worsening security situation in the Indo-Pacific, Japanese officials have also expressed an interest in Japan one day also becoming a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance – which is made up of the US, Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand.
Abe said on Friday there was “no doubt that the Indo-Pacific region has been and will continue to be the source of global economic growth of the world economy”.
But he also described the largest challenges facing the countries of this region as being “maintaining a free and open order, such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and free trade, for years to come”.
Japan and Australia should elevate their security and defence cooperation to a new level, he said, including by increasing the complexity and sophistication of joint exercises.
The Quad countries should also work on building reliable supply chains.
“Semiconductors and critical minerals are key bases that serve as the backbone of a country, and we should prevent and reduce the risk of over-dependence on a particular country as for the supply of these materials,” Abe reportedly said.
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