AUKUS makes more mistakes by roping in Japan

China Military Online
Lin Congyi
2024-04-15 11:28:14

Recently, the US, the UK, and Australia announced that Japan would join AUKUS, causing great concern among the international community. This is the first time that the three countries have announced a partner since the organization was established in September 2021. Japanese officials responded by saying that Japan "recognizes" the importance of AUKUS. Many Japanese citizens criticized AUKUS for promoting membership expansion regardless of concerns from all walks of life, which will intensify camp confrontation and the risks of nuclear proliferation, and undermine peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

AUKUS is short for the Trilateral Security Partnership between Australia, the UK and the US, which has two main pillars. Pillar I focuses on the deployment of nuclear submarines in Australia and the joint research, development and construction of the next-generation nuclear submarines by the three countries. Cooperation in this area is "limited to the US, UK and Australia". Pillar II focuses on the joint development and deployment of new technologies to enhance advanced combat capabilities.

Why did they choose Japan in the first place? Analysts believe that there are two reasons. From a technical perspective, the US, the UK and Australia have their respective shortcomings in the field of high technology, while Japan, with advantages in the fields of hypersonic weapons, quantum technology, electronic warfare and artificial intelligence, can play a greater role in defense technology. On the part of Japan, it hopes to improve its defense capabilities and increase its military influence in the Asia-Pacific region by sharing sensitive military technologies with the US, the UK, Australia, and other countries.

Strategically, these countries also have their own calculations. The US sees AUKUS as a key part of the implementation of the so-called "Indo-Pacific Strategy" and wants to attract more allies to join in order to achieve the goal of containing China. The UK is pushing ahead with the "Global Britain" strategy, and its security cooperation with Japan is becoming deeper. It hopes, in a bid to become more involved in Asia-Pacific affairs with the aid of Japan and expand its influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Australia, on the other hand, put high expectations on Pillar II due to the sluggish progress of Pillar I and thus supported the inclusion of Japan. As for Japan, it wants to use AUKUS as a new tool to carry out its military agenda in the Asia-Pacific region and contain China.

Would Japan's membership promote the development of this alliance? An article published on the Conversation website on April 9 pointed out that it is difficult for Japan to become a core member of AUKUS because of grudges between the parties. Especially when it comes to the export of sensitive technologies, the US puts its private interests first and is wary of its allies.

In fact, AUKUS has the US as its core and other members as its strategic vassals, and there are still differences among its members. For example, Australia originally planned to decommission its six existing Collins class submarines in 2026. However, after the establishment of AUKUS, Australia found that it would not be able to obtain new submarines from the US and the UK before 2040, thus it would most likely face a "gap period" for submarines.

In addition, there have been internal conflicts within AUKUS over the purchase of submarines. Polls show that nearly 60% of Australians oppose raising taxes to pay for AUKUS. Some analysts believe that joining AUKUS has interrupted Australia's active pursuit of integration with Asia.

For Japan, joining such a group with strong military overtones as AUKUS is bound to further reduce it to a "pawn" in the US foreign strategy. If it tries to serve as a diplomatic bridge between the US and other parties in the future, such a role will be severely compromised. Besides, although Japan claims to share common values with Europe and the US, as an oriental country, Japan has always been taken as an "outsider". This means that Japan will be further pushed to the forefront of containing China and dangerous situations in the future.

"This 'strategic mistake' will only divide Asia into opposing camps." That's Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe's criticism of AUKUS. The leaders of Indonesia and Malaysia have also publicly accused the group of jeopardizing the regional stability. If Japan joins AUKUS, the reach of this alliance will be extended to Northeast Asia, bringing more negative repercussions to the region. This military alliance full of Cold War mentality is not in line with regional security interests and runs counter to the Asia-Pacific integration process. There is no need for it to exist in the first place.

Editor's note: Originally published on, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of

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