Senior U.S. Diplomat Foresees Progress on Japan, AUKUS Cooperation; Nuclear Issue to Be Skirted

Courtesy of U.S. Embassy in Japan
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell speaks to reporters in Tokyo.

A senior U.S. diplomat has said that the Japan-U.S. summit planned for April in Washington is expected to confirm a policy of cooperation between Japan and the so-called AUKUS partnership — a security framework among Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The official, Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, told reporters of the Japanese media in Tokyo on Thursday that in addition to cooperation by the U.S. and U.K. governments on developing nuclear submarines for Australia, the three AUKUS countries would begin to work together on areas of other advanced technologies.

Regarding the Anglophone alliance, Campbell said, “There are clearly areas that Japan could bring substantial capacity to bear,” including advanced robotics and cyber initiatives. He added that when Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden meet in Washington in April, the two leaders will promote cooperation between Japan and AUKUS.

Since AUKUS is focused on cooperation for developing nuclear submarines, Japan has not been a full member of the group, as it wants to avoid conflict with its three non-nuclear principles: not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons. This means Japan will limit its cooperation to areas other than nuclear submarines.

“It is natural to have consideration of Japan joining [AUKUS],” Campbell said. He added, “We’re aware of some of the sensitivities in Japan on the nuclear dimension, and it’s also clear that we want to take appropriate steps with consultation and engagement.”

The first trilateral summit for Japan, the United States and the Philippines is planned for Kishida’s visit to Washington. “This trilateral is so important, given the sheer interests the United States and Japan have in the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Campbell said.