Ex-Japan PM Abe calls for Tokyo’s cooperation with AUKUS in AI, cyber

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, August 28, 2020. Franck Robichon/Pool via REUTERS

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who remains prominent in the governing party, stated on Friday that Japan should work on artificial intelligence and cyber capabilities with AUKUS security partners the US, UK, and Australia.

The AUKUS contract, which was signed in September and will see Australia acquire technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, is widely regarded as a response to Chinese militarization in the region, particularly in the strategically vital South China Sea.

As it challenges Chinese military expansion, Japan seeks to deepen connections with allies such as the United States and other friendly states while also strengthening its own defense posture.

“A key to realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific is ensuring like-minded countries’ mid-to-long-term engagement with the Indo-Pacific region. From this standpoint, I welcome the formation of AUKUS,” Abe said in a speech at an online forum.

“It is extremely important to carry out multi-layered efforts to promote the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region. I believe Japan should engage in AUKUS cooperation in such areas as cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, and quantum technologies.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said although the AUKUS partnership will begin with nuclear-powered submarines, alliance members expect to accelerate the development of other advanced defense systems including cyber, AI, and quantum computing.

Japan forms the Quad grouping with India and two of the AUKUS members – Australia and the United States. Quad leaders in September held their first in-person summit, which presented a united front amid shared concerns about China.

Abe stated that Japan and Australia’s special strategic cooperation has to be strengthened further.

“Given the deteriorating regional security situation, there is a need to take bilateral security and defense cooperation between Japan and Australia to a new level.”

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, stood down last year due to bad health, but remained a lawmaker and took over as the head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction this month.