Speculation continues to mount over whether Japan will increase its naval capability, now that its decided to extend its territorial waters from 3 to 12 miles and declare a 200 mile economic zone.
Speculation continues to mount over whether Japan will increase its naval capability, now that its decided to extend its territorial waters from 3 to 12 miles and declare a 200 mile economic zone. Even more pressing, for the Japanese is the continuing build up of the Soviet Union's fleet of nuclear submarines in the Western Pacific. Charged with the responsibility of protecting Japan's coasts is the tiny Maritime Self-Defence service. Yesterday (21 July) in Yokohama Bay they were busy giving a display of anti-submarine operations which would be sued in the Western Pacific under the joint Japanese-American Security Pact.
If an attack by the Soviet navy were to take place, its doubtful whether the Maritime Self-Defence service could do much to neutralise it. One needs only to compare the Soviet Union's 120 nuclear and conventional submarines, 10 cruisers, 28 destroyers and 150 smaller craft now stationed in the Western Pacific against Japan's total tonnage of 167,000 tons to see why. In all, the MSDS would only be able to muster 60 anti-submarine vessels a handful of small convention submaries, and a few helicopter destroyers, in the event of a military attack.
Since the end of the Second World War, Japan has been forbidden by the US written 1946 Constitution to have a formal military establishment. Japan's Self Defence Service evolved gradually from a national police reserve set up in 1950 at the start of the Korean War.
Today, the combined ground, air and maritime elements of the SDF have an authorised strength of just over 266,000. The SDF's official task is to cope with limited and small scale aggression. Western military observers say much of the equipment used by the SDF is obsolete.
A perfect example is this anti-submarine flying boat. Development began in the early 60's, but it wasn't until 1967 that the initial flight took place.
This exercise was watched by 2,000 military attaches and their guests. They watched the anti-submarine flying boat developed in the early 60's took to the air.
Beside the obvious military aspect these exercises were used to attract second year students at the Defence University who have to opt at this stage of their careers for either the ground, air or maritime division of the SDF. The SDF as a whole is still 40,000 people short.
Despite the SDF's inadequacies, the likelihood of a foreign attack is remote as long as the American nuclear shield is maintained.