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Land of the Rising Gun
Japan’s Shiny New Warship

For an officially pacifist nation, Japan has been doing an awful lot for its military recently. The latest is that Tokyo has commissioned a massive new warship, its biggest since World War II. USNI News reports:

A 24,000-ton helicopter carrier has formally entered the fleet of Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) on Wednesday…

The commissioning ceremony JS Izumo (DDH-183) — the first of two for the JMSDF — was held in Yokohama and attended by Defense Minister Gen Nakatani.

The ship and its eventual double will be primarily dedicated to anti-submarine missions, which won’t draw any cheers from Beijing. And Japan is rubbing salt in the wound:

Billed by the Japanese as a platform to assist in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) operations, the ship has flared regional tensions in neighbors— China especially — who view the ship as a power projection platform with a historically aggressive name.

“The original Izumo, an armored cruiser that participated in the Battle of Tsushima, was purchased with reparations from the first Sino-Japanese War,” wrote USNI News contributor Kyle Mizokami in 2013.

“There is little doubt all parties, particularly the Chinese, are aware of the lineage.”

Japanese paper, Asahi Shimbum, quoted an unnamed JMSDF official saying the ship would be of particular help against the growing number of Chinese submarines.

“This heightens our ability to deal with Chinese submarines that have become more difficult to detect,” the officer told the paper.

Japan’s growing militarism, which is being pushed by nationalist PM Shinzo Abe with considerable success given how long and how firmly Japan has held onto its post-War pacifism, is one of the big stories in the world right now. That’s because, as China rises and looks to push past what it sees as cramped boundaries and an unfairly minor global role, the powerful opponent off the coast is its biggest obstacle. This new ship is only the latest sign that Tokyo has no intention of letting China become the region’s big shot. At least not without a fight.

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  • GS

    perhaps the French could sell those two Mistrals to Japan, it would solve several problems simultaneously.

  • Andrew Allison

    Does being an officially pacifistic nation preclude self-defense?

    • Fat_Man

      The Japanese call their military forces their “self-defense force”. Losing WWII they way Japan did, made disarmament seem like a good idea at the time, but it did not turn that nation into Quakers.

  • GS

    Well, then cut that stern off and return it to the manufacturer. Where is a will, there is a way.

  • EndOfPatience

    And just think, we have Obama to thank for this. One of the few positive results of his occupation of the Oval Office, but I’m betting not one he’ll point to with pride.

  • LoboSolo

    From the linkt writ:

    “Indeed, there are no obvious technical obstacles to the Izumo carrying F-35Bs fighters. Some improvements the Izumo sports over the previous Hyuga class—such as moving defensive armament off the flight deck, and moving an elevator behind the island—support theories involving fixed-wing aircraft. Publicly, the JMSDF denies that the ships will be equipped with the F-35B.”

    • A_Tad_Incredulous

      Looking at the Japanese commitment to automation, I’d posit that this ship will eventually be re-tasked as a drone carrier.

    • Phil Ossiferz Stone

      It doesn’t have the correct coating on the flight deck. Operating STOVL fighters off the Izumo as-is will permanently damage the ship.

      • Josephbleau

        The Japanese are all high tech, they can make an operating pad of ceramic fiber insulation for the VTOLS.

  • Fat_Man

    During WWII, the Imperial Japanese Navy constructed and operated the Yamato-class battleships, the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed. They carried the largest naval artillery ever fitted to a warship, nine 18.1″ naval guns, each capable of firing 3,000 lb shells over 26 mi. Two battleships of the class (Yamato and Musashi) were completed, while a third (Shinano) was converted to an aircraft carrier during construction. All three were sunk by the US Navy during the war.

    Type: Battleship
    Displacement: 72,000 tons
    Length: 863′
    Beam: 127.5′
    Draught: 34′

  • A_Tad_Incredulous

    …”Tokyo has commissioned a massive new warship”… …”A 24,000-ton helicopter carrier has formally entered the fleet of Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) on Wednesday…”…

    Iowa class battleships were massive (at 58,000 tons displacement) for their time.

    Ford class supercarriers are signicantly larger (at 100,000+ tons displacement)

    Every ship on this entire (in-service) list of cruise ships out-displaces a supercarrier, with the largest weighing in at a whopping 225,282 tons displacement (almost ten times the size of Japan’s new ship.) Who said fun can’t be big?

    The most massive ship ever built may well have been the Seawise Giant, a ULCC supertanker. fully laden at 657,019 tonnes.

    So is the new Japanese warship really massive? Not quite.

    Large? Maybe…

  • Phil Ossiferz Stone

    How the hell does a wealthy, peaceful democracy that lives next to two gigantic and one medium-sized neighbor that are constantly bullying and threatening it putting its dukes up constitute ‘militarism’? Are the Swiss militarists? Are the Israelis? Are we…?

  • ubik

    Thanks Obama!

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