A huge submarine deal is on the table when Japan and Australia meet to shore up their military relationship, as the security architecture of the Asia-Pacific shifts to meet the challenge of a rising China.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera will play hosts to Julie Bishop and David Johnston, their respective opposite numbers, for the 5th round of so-called 2+2 talks.
High on the agenda will be, the transfer of Japanese submarine technology to Australia, with Canberra needing to replace its fleet of stealth subs at a cost of up to US $37 billion.
This could see Tokyo's technology used in the fleet, in a deal that would yoke the 2 nations together for several decades. The step comes as China's relentless rise alters the balance of power in a region long dominated by the US, with Beijing willing to use its might to push territorial and maritime claims.
A rash of confrontations in the South China Sea has set off ripples of disquiet in the region over islands in the East China Sea. The worries encouraged a relationship-building drive across Asia, with Australia and Japan, both key US allies.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe signed a free trade pact and a security deal. Tokyo will let Johnston see Japanese submarines during his stay. The Japanese defence chief stressed that various "frameworks", military pacts, grouping Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the US are vital in ensuring security in East Asia.