28 May 2016
Japan’s failure to win the Australian submarine contract highlights the challenges of entering the global arms market. Japan may secure export sales in the future, but it will likely have to start small and be realistic.
In the baseball film, “The Natural,” there is a scene in which the hero, an aging rookie ballplayer by the name of Roy Hobbs, gets his first at-bat in a major league game; to his surprise, he quickly takes two strikes, at which point a sportscaster mockingly pronounces, “welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Hobbs”.
Japan’s defence industry got a similar humbling a few weeks ago when Australia announced it would sign a US$38.7 billion deal with France for 12 new submarines. Many assumed that the sale was a lock for Tokyo. Japan had a good product – the 4000-ton Sōryū-class sub – and Prime Minister Abe’s close relationship with former Australian premier Tony Abbot appeared to seal the deal. Instead, Japan learned a valuable if bitter lesson that overseas arms sales are, in most cases, anything but certain.
… Richard A. Bitzinger is a Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Military Transformations Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This Commentary is based on a recent article by the author that appeared in Asia Times.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 30/05/2016