By Tim Dornin
(Australian Associated Press)
Japanese officials remain tight-lipped on where they would like to build Australia’s next fleet of submarines if their bid for the multibillion dollar contract is successful.
They plan to present all three options to the federal government – a build in Japan, a build in Australia and a combination of the two – in a submission to be finalised by the end of November.
The move is unlikely to allay local industry fears that a build in Japan is the preferred option but they say the final decision rests with the Australian government.
“At this moment we have not yet determined which is good and which is bad,” the head of the Japanese delegation, Takashi Saito, told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.
“That is one of the reasons why we came down here to Australia to engage with the local defence industry.”
Mr Saito said if the Japanese bidders declared their preference for a build in Australia they would feel obliged to fulfil that promise.
The delegation in Australia includes representatives from government, defence and Japanese industry.
They presented a briefing with about 200 representatives from the local defence sector outlining their Soryu class submarines.
Japan currently operates six Soryu subs and has four more under construction.
An Australian submarine is likely to be a modified design based on Navy requirements and is expected to include an American-developed combat system.
Mr Saito said he was confident such a submarine would be “the best in the world” and believed a deal to build Australia’s new fleet would strengthen defence and economic co-operation between the two countries.
However, the delegation insisted that no deal had already been done for Australia to accept the Japanese bid and insisted Japan was not responsible for recent speculation.
“There is absolutely no such secret deal,” Defence Ministry spokesman Masaki Ishikawa said.
South Australian Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith told the industry briefing that the state government and local industry would work well with whichever bid was successful, the Japanese or rival proposals from France and Germany.
But he said the government had made its position clear that it believed the submarines must be built in Australia and largely in Adelaide.
He said about $50 billion would be spent on building and maintaining the next fleet of submarines.
“These shipyards will be going for decades,” he said.
“We are building the future of the nation.”