Is Japan joining AUKUS? Maybe not, but it could get involved

AUKUS defence ministers have released a statement noting Japan could become involved in the military partnership. Here's what that means.
AUKUS is considering working with Japan as part of the military partnership.

Australia, the UK and the U.S. will invite Japan into the ‘AUKUS’ military partnership, according to a joint announcement from the countries.

The AUKUS defence pact centres on sharing military technology, aimed at boosting “regional stability” and international relations.

Three years since Australian, U.S. and UK leaders struck a deal to form AUKUS, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to make a bid for his country’s involvement in the pact.


AUKUS is a security partnership between Australia, the U.S, and the UK that was first announced in September 2021.

Its central aim is to “promote security and stability” in the Indo-Pacific region. The trilateral agreement has been broadly seen as an attempt by Western nations to curb China’s influence in the region.

For Australia, the main part of the deal involved developing nuclear-powered submarines.

The “pillars”

There are two central pillars to AUKUS:

  1. Submarines: Building and buying nuclear-powered submarines, which can remain underwater for longer than conventional submarines.
  2. Advancing capability: Improving defence technologies, like cyber and electronic military capabilities, using artificial intelligence and hypersonic (very, very fast) weapons.


Overnight, AUKUS leaders announced plans to collaborate with more partners to achieve its goals around advanced tech capabilities (the second pillar).

Specifically, they called out Japan as a potential partner.

So, is Japan joining AUKUS as its newest member? Not exactly, according to the statement.

“Recognising Japan’s strengths and its close bilateral defence partnerships with all three countries, we are considering cooperation with Japan on AUKUS Pillar II advanced capability projects,” the statement read.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is heading to the U.S. to meet with President Joe Biden this week.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby confirmed the U.S. President will host Kishida for a state dinner during the official visit, maintaining a focus on strengthening the countries’ ties.

“It builds on the immense progress between our two nations to help create a safer and more secure Indo-Pacific,” Kirby said.

China’s reaction

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning expressed “grave concerns” about Japan’s potential involvement in AUKUS.

“We oppose relevant countries cobbling together exclusive groupings and stoking bloc confrontation.

“Japan needs to earnestly draw lessons from history and stay prudent on military and security issues.”

Beijing has regularly expressed concerns about the AUKUS partnership.

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