Hagerty, Romney, Kaine, Risch Introduce Legislation to Increase AUKUS Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

May 8, 2024

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, joined Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in introducing theCoordinating AUKUS Engagement with Japan Act, bipartisan legislation aimed at increasing the United States’ cooperation with allies in order to combat the growing threat of China. The legislation would require Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) coordinators at both the U.S. Departments of State and Defense to engage with the Japanese government, and consult with counterparts in the U.K and Australia, to discuss what including Japan in certain advanced technology cooperation activities under the AUKUS framework would look like.

“Amid China’s growing military and technological threats to the free and open Indo-Pacific, it is imperative that we find ways to include Japan in the AUKUS partnership among the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia,” said Senator Hagerty. “I’m proud to support this important bipartisan bill that seeks to lay the groundwork for Japan—as one of America’s most important allies, the world’s third-biggest economy, and a global technological leader—to join AUKUS and contribute to this strategic partnership’s Pillar Two efforts to collaborate, develop, and deploy artificial intelligence, quantum computing, hypersonics, and other advanced technologies.”

“The United States must link arms with its allies to effectively push back against increased Chinese aggression—especially as the Chinese Communist Party ramps up its military activities in the Taiwan Strait, East China Sea, and South China Sea,” said Senator Romney. “Our legislation will take an important step toward determining how Japan, a close and capable ally, could bolster the AUKUS partnership in order to strengthen our technological edge and counter China’s malign rise and aggression in the region.”

“China and Russia simply cannot compete with the strength of the United States’ alliances,” said Senator Kaine. “I have been a strong advocate of the Australia-U.K.-U.S. (AUKUS) partnership, which is critical to keeping the Indo-Pacific free and open amid growing instability in the South China Sea. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to help us outline a path for Japan’s inclusion in AUKUS and expand defense industrial cooperation among U.S. allies. We must work together to address our shared challenges.”

“Japan is a close ally and logical first partner for potential expansion of AUKUS given its large, technologically advanced economy and substantial manufacturing capacity,” said Senator Risch. “However, AUKUS should get up and running before the administration decides to add a new partner. This legislation requires the administration to first engage Japan on its interest in cooperation on pillar two of AUKUS, including assessments of its unique technological contributions and whether its export control system is sufficiently aligned to that of the existing AUKUS partners. Importantly, it also ensures the executive branch consult with its counterparts in the United Kingdom and Australia before expanding AUKUS.”


The Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) trilateral partnership, announced in September 2021, was a historic step toward increased cooperation between the U.S. and its allies to deter aggression and maintain stability around the world.

Part of the AUKUS agreement envisioned deeper collaboration among AUKUS partners on advanced military capabilities—including cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum, and more—to support innovation, improve technology sharing, and develop vital new defense and security applications. In April 2024, AUKUS partners announced they would consider cooperating with Japan on AUKUS-related advanced technology projects.

The Coordinating AUKUS Engagement with Japan Act operationalizes this announcement by directing the two AUKUS coordinators at the U.S. Departments of State and Defense to engage with Japan, and consult with counterparts in the U.K. and Australia, at technical level to better understand how Japan could augment the partnership and what steps Japan might need to take in order to engage quickly and meaningfully in AUKUS advanced technology projects. Additionally, the administration would be required to provide a briefing and a report to Congress detailing these engagements, areas where Japan could add value to AUKUS, a plan for engaging Japan on AUKUS cooperation moving forward, and feedback provided by Australia and the United Kingdom.

Full text of the Coordinating AUKUS Engagement with Japan Act can be found here.