Receive Breaking News updates as they occur
By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and Australia are leaning towards a multibillion-dollar sale by Tokyo of a fleet of stealth submarines to Canberra's military in a move that could rile an increasingly assertive China, people familiar with the talks said. An agreement is still some months away, three people said, but the unprecedented sale of off-the-shelf vessels based on the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force's Soryu class sub is emerging as the likeliest option. Such a deal would signal a major expansion of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's controversial drive for a more active military after decades of pacifism. Rival China regularly accuses Abe of reviving Japan's wartime militarism.