Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews on Wednesday asked Japan to participate in procedures to become Australia’s partner in a project to jointly develop next-generation submarines, Japanese officials said.
Andrews made the request in a telephone conversation with Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, who responded positively. The phone talks, which lasted about 15 minutes, took place at the request of Australia, according to the officials.
In February, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his country will team with either Japan, France or Germany to jointly develop the next-generation submarines for Australia. The selection process is expected to end later this year.
Japan is considered the front-runner in the race because Abbott has expressed his strong interest in Japan’s Soryu-class submarines.