Japan has been getting unofficial offers to become part of the AUKUS military bloc, which was formed last year by Australia, the UK and the US, the Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Several unnamed Japanese government officials told the paper that Tokyo has been informally approached on such a possibility by each of the three members of the alliance.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno denied the report on Wednesday, saying that “there is no fact” in the Sankei Shimbun article. Tokyo was “not asked to participate in AUKUS,” he said.
The AUKUS pact, which is largely seen as a strategy to counter China’s growing influence in the Pacific, was announced by the leaders of Australia, the UK and the US in September 2021.
Its initial aim was to provide Canberra with a fleet of nuclear-powered, yet conventionally armed, submarines. But last week the trio announced that they were also going to cooperate on developing hypersonic tech, with Japan expressing support for the decision.