Australia's Defence Minister has requested Japanese help to develop a new fleet of submarines.
Australia wants to spend billions of dollars on replacing its ageing Collins Class submarines and the Japanese Soryu subs could be the best option.
In his first bilateral meeting with Japanese defence minister Akinori Eto in Tokyo, David Johnston formally requested Japanese cooperation in a deal.
The Japanese minister said they would first talk about how a deal could benefit both countries and proceed from there.
But the Australian Government will not conclude a submarine deal until next year and is also keeping its options open with Germany, France and Sweden.
Earlier this week, Coalition backbenchers called for the next generation of submarines to be built in Australia.
David Fawcett, a Liberal senator who spent more than two decades in the Defence Force, said nothing that was available overseas was suitable for Australia's purposes.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon called for an open tender process "to ensure that we are getting the best value for money".
During the talks, the Australian and Japanese counterparts also agreed to deepen defence and security cooperation.
Mr Eto said he wanted to deepen Australia's special relationship with Japan and called on Senator Johnston for special support.