Last week, it looked like Australia might back off a contract for up to $50 billion of Japanese-made submarines. But in a move that could save the imperiled deal, Tokyo’s ambassador to Australia says his government would be willing to build the warships on Australian soil. Sky News has more:
Japanese ambassador Sumio Kusaka has told The Australian that Japan could work with Australia’s government-owned submarine builder ASC in whatever arrangement best suited the Turnbull government.
‘We will go along with whatever decision the Australian government makes.’
Government frontbencher Christopher Pyne says the news is music to his ears, pleased that the submarines ould be built in his home state of South Australia.
‘As a South Australian, that is music to my ears but we will go through the proper processes and announce it at the appropriate time,’ Mr Pyne told the Nine Network on Friday.
This is welcome news, considering how wobbly the deal was looking. The new Aussie PM, Malcolm Turnbull, appears more hesitant than his hawkish predecessor, Tony Abbott, to upset Beijing—and there was a further, more significant, sticking point for the deal that traced to the country’s weak domestic economy. Australians wondered why their government was signing massive contracts with Japanese corporations while Australian businesses suffered. If Japan does agree to hire Australian workers to build the submarines, that could go a long way toward making this deal happen.
Improved prospects for the purchase is very good news for Tokyo, but also for the U.S. and other countries: A completed deal would bolster cooperation between the two countries and help strengthen a relationship that we, and many others, want to see flourish.