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.