In a last-minute effort to win the Australian submarines contract worth $50 billion, the Japanese Government is planning a top-level intervention with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
It is likely that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may directly talk to Turnbull.
Japan has been under pressure after reports surfaced that European bidders have gained an upper hand. The scrutiny of bids by Japanese, French and German firms are in the final stage. The National Security Committee of Cabinet will soon take a call on it, reports The ABC.
By next week, the government is expected to award the contract to one of the following — Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, French contender DCNS or Japan’s Mitsubishi-led consortium.
Reports from Japan said PM Abe is keeping a close tab on the bid as the defence project was originally conceived as an informal agreement between Abe and then Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Recent reports had suggested Japan’s initial edge had waned after the European bidders (France and Germany) scored over the Japanese. Japan bid is offering improvised version of its 4,000-tonne displacement Soryu class submarines.
Defending its submarine offerings, Japan also compiled a rebuttal of criticism regarding technical issues of the subs regarding propulsion system, noise suppression, batteries and other aspects.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that the French DCNS shipbuilder and the German ThyssenKrupp Marine leveraged their long experience in impressing their claims for building Australian submarines.
Sources close to the assessment process also indicated that Japan’s Mitsubishi is running a poor third for technical reasons, because of its limited exposure in foreign military sales.
They also said a review by senior Australian security ministers had surmised that Japanese bid was weak and faces “considerable risk,” given their inexperience in building naval equipment overseas.
Mitsubishi declined to comment on the group’s bid. It is known that the US also has considerable interest in Australia’s submarine acquisitions because of the South China Sea angle.
However, it has assured that the choice of the final bidder will not come in the way of installing sensitive US Navy combat systems on Australian submarines.
Australia is also expecting a regional boost from the submarine contract and wants them to be built in the South Australian capital Adelaide, where auto sector closure created serious unemployment issues.