Friday, April 29, 2016

How has Japan reacted to its failed bid to build Australia's new submarines?

Donna Weeks,

Image from "DCNS of France wins A$50bn Australia submarines contract,"

The decision on who would build Australia’s next generation of submarines carried just as much anticipation in Japan as it did in Australia. A successful tender would embolden Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bid to enhance his brand of “active pacifism”. This is a more assertive approach to defence but “with Japanese characteristics”.
It was no surprise, then, that online news spaces quickly filled on Tuesday with news of Japan’s failed bid, following Australia’s decision to award the contract to French firm DCNS. ... 
Activity on social media
Japan’s social media sphere is just as engaged in this debate. And the social media response is worth noting. Part of Abe’s domestic political milieu is the broad resistance to his brand of “active pacifism”. Many feel the government is ignoring their views.
Views on social media have ranged from relief that Japan failed in the bid and that Japanese technological secrets will not be shared, through views that Australia bowed to Chinese pressure, to claims that the Chinese father-in-law of Malcolm Turnbull’s son was partly to blame.
It is also clear on social media that Australia’s stance on Japanese whaling is the itch that won’t go away in the bilateral relationship – despite the best efforts of public diplomacy.
The submarine decision has reheated some of the stronger nationalism in Japan being cultivated by the Abe government’s stronger defence outlook. It is, for want of a better cliché, something of a double-edged sword – the opportunity for Japan to become a player in the weapons arena lost, but to a country (Australia) towards which there remains residual antipathy over Japan’s “food culture”.
Relationship implications
It is unlikely that the failure to award the submarines contract to Japan will affect the Australia-Japan relationship in any major way. ... 

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