The reluctance of Japan to share full technical details of the Soryu with Australia is a major problem for Australia. The Soryu's operating life of only 20 years is another major problem, but this is under-rated by Australian selectors.
This article from ABC Online, June 3, 2015 appears to be accurate in what the 3 representatives of Japan say and when Defence Minister Andrews said:
"the submarine was about the size Australia is looking for, but required some alterations, and the purchase of the subs has the personal backing of Prime Minister Tony Abbott."
The thread for the article is http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-03/australia-not-capable-of-top-secret-soryu-submarine-build/6517730 :
"Submarines program: Adelaide shipyard not capable of building Soryu subs, former Japanese commander says"
The assessment comes as Defence Minister Kevin Andrews visits Japan to inspect Soryus, tipped as the preferred option to replace Australia's Collin Class fleet.
Mr Andrews said the submarine was about the size Australia is looking for, but required some alterations, and the purchase of the subs has the personal backing of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
But former commander of the Japanese submarine fleet Masao Kobayashi said he was not sure the high-tech build could be successfully carried out in the Adelaide shipyards.
"They don't enough skilled workers to fashion the high-tension steel; it's even hard to do in Japan," he said.
[Submarine Matters records indicate the strength of steel used in the Soryu is HY-156. This is much stronger and harder to weld than most submarines (including those from TKMS) which have a HY-80 strength rating. The safe depth most submarines can dive may be around 400 meters - but Soryus with their stronger steel may be able to dive to 600 meters.]
Captain Hisayuki Tamura from the Japanese Ministry of Defence also said Japan was best placed to build the high-tech submarines.
"It's the best conventional non-nuclear submarine and we have the best technology to build them," he said.
Another former Japanese submarine captain, Toshihide Yamauchi, said it was still to be negotiated just how much of the top secret Soryu technology can be handed over.
"Releasing the core technology is not an option for Japan," he said.
"We're worried about leaks to China once our technology is in Australia.
"We need to sort out expectations from both sides."
Mr Andrews said deciding how much of the secret technology was shared with Australia would be part of the competitive evaluation process.
"What we need to know is what they are at the outset, have an understanding of what's involved in making those design modification changes and ultimately we need to know what the cost is as well," he said.
The contract to build Australia's next fleet of submarines, worth about $50 billion, is between Japan, France and Germany.
Mr Andrews said a deal with any of the countries could involve the long-term training of staff in Adelaide."
Submarine Matters biodata file photo and description of former commander of the Japanese submarine fleet Vice Admiral ("retired") Masao Kobayashi indicates that he is not fully retired. Kobayashi remains an adviser to Japan's National Security Council.
Vice Admiral Masao KOBAYASHI, JMSDF (Retd) photo (above) courtesy Sub Summit
Masao Kobayashi is now an adviser to Japan's National Security Council. "Masao graduated from the Japanese Defense Academy in 1973 and commenced a career in the JMSDF submarine service.
He had held many posts in the submarine force. Shore billets included Submarine Branch Head in the Ship Systems Section in the Maritime Staff Office and Operations Officer in the Fleet Submarine Force. He has commanded TAKASHIO SS-571, (Uzushio class), and has been the Commander of Submarine Division Two. In 2001/2 he was the Commander of Submarine Flotilla One, and was Coordinator of Exercise at sea for Pacific Reach 2002.
Masao’s last post was as Commander of the Fleet Submarine Force. He retired from the MSDF in 2009. Vice Admiral KOBAYASHI served with distinction in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and is well regarded as an authourity in the submariner community." See Kobayashi's comments on submarines to the Japanese press - reported January 18, 2015.