Japan's defense minister urged Australia Sunday to award a huge submarine contract to his country, saying such a deal would help bolster regional security.
Australia has put out to tender a project worth up to Aus $50 billion (US $36 billion) to replace its current diesel and electric-powered Collins Class submarines.
France and Germany are also in the running with Japan to secure the order, with a Nov. 30 deadline to submit final proposals.
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said picking Tokyo could help ensure maritime security in the Asia-Pacific, alluding to the importance of regional allies such as the US, Japan and Australia working together in the face of China's growing military might.
He said after talks with his counterpart Marise Payne in Sydney that awarding Japan the contract would be of "strategic importance, significant strategic importance, and this is not just about transfer of defense equipment and capabilities."
"This will lead to operational cooperation between Japan and Australia... Japan and Australia and the US."