As the dust settles on Japan’s unsuccessful bid to sell its Soryu-class submarines to Australia, Tokyo has a lot to think about. The failure in Canberra was Japan’s second strike in its politically-led push to export its homegrown weaponry.
The joint bid by the Japanese government on behalf of two defense heavyweights — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries — lost out to a conventionally-powered variant of France’s Barracuda-class nuclear submarine. Germany was also in the running with its Type 214.
Australia wants 12 new long-range, non-nuclear submarines to replace its current six Collins-class boats starting around 2030. The program could cost more than $15 billion.
While Tokyo’s hopes of selling Soryus to Australia and P-1 maritime patrol aircraft to the United Kingdom have been dashed, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s dream of a healthy defense export market survives—but only if Japan can learn from its failure down under.