Friday, March 11, 2016

What the submarine contract means to Japan

I would not say that the Japanese are exactly confident of winning this contract against the German and French bids (certainly I've heard nothing like the tone of this recent Japan Times headline), but I do get the impression that the bid means a great deal to the Japanese side, and that the implications for Australia of not choosing the Japanese design are far from trivial.

On one level, this is counter-intuitive. Japan-Australia ties have been on an upward trajectory for a few years now, so why would that not continue even if Australia brought its submarines from someone else? Maybe it will, and sentiment on this point was not universal among my interlocutors in Tokyo. But some officials did tell me that Australia-Japan ties would be set back if the submarine announcement did not go Japan's way.

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