Thursday, August 8, 2013

• Japan unveils 'largest warship' since World War II


Experts say that although technically the Izumo is a destroyer, it could potentially be used in the future to launch fighter jets or other aircraft
Japan has unveiled its largest warship since World War II, to be used in anti-submarine warfare and border-area surveillance missions.

The vessel has a flight deck nearly 250m (820ft) long and can reportedly carry more than nine helicopters. Its unveiling comes amid tensions with China over islands which both countries insist are theirs. The Philippines is also bolstering its marine defences by buying a second decommissioned US Coast Guard ship.

President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday welcomed the arrival of the vessel in Subic Bay. He said it would intensify patrols of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, where disputed waters have also raised tensions.

Island tension
Correspondents say that the launch of the huge Japanese flat-top destroyer, Izumo, has raised eyebrows in China because it bears a strong resemblance to a conventional aircraft carrier.

Officials say it will be used for national defence and will enhance the Japan's ability to transport personnel and supplies in response to large-scale natural disasters, such as the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Although work on Izumo has been ongoing since 2009, its unveiling comes as Japan and China are locked in a dispute over several small islands located between southern Japan and Taiwan.

Vessels from both countries have been conducting patrols around the islands, called the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyutai in China. Tension over the issue, along with China's heavy spending on defence and military modernisation, have heightened calls in Japan for its naval and air forces to be strengthened. China recently began operating a refurbished Russian aircraft carrier - and is also reportedly moving forward with the construction of another that is domestically built.

Technically the Izumo is a destroyer, but some experts believe the new Japanese ship could potentially be used to launch fighter jets or other aircraft that have the ability to take off vertically. That would be a departure for Japan, correspondents say, even though it has one of the best-equipped and best-trained naval forces in the Pacific.

Since the end of WWII it has not sought to build aircraft carriers of its own because of constitutional restrictions that limit its military forces to a defensive role.



Image
Japan has has one of the best-equipped and 
best-trained naval forces in the Pacific



Japan's Giant New Destroyer Sends A Clear Message To China
by GEOFFREY INGERSOLL - Wednesday, August 07, 2013



Zoom in (real dimensions: 960 x 720)Image
The Izumo has been in construction since 2009.


Sixty-eight years to the day of the Hiroshima bombing, Japan unveiled its new naval "destroyer" that happens to have a flat-top — dubbed "Izumo" — capable of carrying various rotary-wing aviation units, reports Eric Talmadge of ABC.

Consequently, it's also the biggest since WWII ... and since Japan's official army was disbanded.
The new boat comes as Chinese officials say the country is in "no rush" to sign a code of conduct guiding military behavior in the contested South China Sea.

From ABC:
[S]ome experts believe the new Japanese ship could potentially be used in the future to launch fighter jets or other aircraft that have the ability to take off vertically. 
That would be a departure for Japan, which has one of the best equipped and best trained naval forces in the Pacific but which has not sought to build aircraft carriers of its own because of constitutional restrictions that limit its military forces to a defensive role. 

The "constitutional restrictions" refer to the American-written post-World War II Japanese Constitution which stipulated — among other things — a ban on the construction of "offensive" military equipment.

To this day, Japan euphemistically refers to its army as a Self-Defense Force. Still, a restless Beijing patrolling more and more in the South China Sea, as well as an unpredictable North Korea, have caused alarm in some Japanese citizens. They've been pushing for more military spending, some say for fear that American sequester means a shorter reach for Washington in the island disputes.



Zoom in (real dimensions: 1200 x 900)Image
A destroyer that wants to be a carrier, or visa versa?


Japan's most recent defense white paper covered an increased budget and mentioned Chinese encroachment directly, “China has attempted to change the status quo by force based on its own assertion, which is incompatible with the existing order of international law.”

Two of the aims of Japan's first increase in defense spending in 11 years were, according to the WSJ, "developing the ability to launch pre-emptive attacks on enemy bases abroad and the creation of an amphibious force similar to the U.S. Marine Corps." Pre-emptive strikes might actually be in violation of the Article 9 of Japan's constitution, which bars "war" or "threat of use of force" as a means of solving international disputes.

Korean media company The Hankyoreh voiced fears on Monday that victories for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's party in the upper and lower house of the Japanese Diet will result in "accelerating efforts to depart from the post-war pacifist system." This even amid the widely touted U.S. "pacific pivot" and recent news of the Philippines sending a refurbished American Coast Guard cutter to join up with another used U.S. cutter in patrolling the contested seas.



Zoom in (real dimensions: 1200 x 900)Image

China's appetite for natural resources is growing though, so more Americans and cutters are unlikely to deter their claims.
From Reuters:
Friction over the South China Sea, one of the world's most important waterways, has surged as China uses its growing naval might to more forcefully assert its vast claims over the oil- and gas-rich sea, raising fears of a military clash. 

Japan's new flat-top doesn't have catapults for fixed wing aircraft — yet — but certainly the helicopters the boat carries will help patrol what Japan takes to be its sovereign territory.

Also, the folks over at the American Enterprise Institute note that its deck length — 248 meters — is greater than that of other fixed wing carriers, notably "Britain's HMS Invincible-class ships, which are 209 meters in length."

Nonetheless, they say the boat is primarily for relief from natural disasters, something Japan has had no shortage of over the last few years.
In September, China will host the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for talks on a maritime Code of Conduct regulating passage in the South China Sea.


MORE:
:mrgreen: WORLD NEWS
:mrgreen: CHINA
:mrgreen: WAR on Cyber Attack:"Cyber Attack is considered Act of WAR"
:mrgreen: China - Japan War
:arrow: China - India War