The Japanese Navy, or more properly, the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force, has recently been holding training exercises in shallow reaches of the Pacific.
The Japanese Navy, or more properly, the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force, has recently been holding training exercises in shallow reaches of the Pacific. Despite its impressive history as a Navy, the Force is now really only for coastal defence, unable to operate at any distance from the Japanese islands.
SYNOPSIS: Japan, which imports all its raw materials, relies on the United States Navy to keep open the sea lanes between Japan and Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. Last year, a Japanese government report suggested how serious Japan's position would be if the supply of essential goods was suspended, even temporarily. And so, there is now talk of expanding the country;'s navel power.
For many years after World War Two, it was politically impossible for politicians and military officers to suggest increased arms spending. But recently, the Japanese public has lost its animosity towards the military, whom they largely blamed for the country's defeat in 1945. Now, the Japanese Defence Agency (Ministry) has announced that for the first time post-war, the Armed Forces will conduct a study on a comprehensive plan to defend the country from attack.
However, for political reasons, the Navy is unlikely to expand quickly. The Navy now has 481 vessels, including 46 destroyers, the biggest class in the fleet, ranging from brand-new to 25 years old. As Japanese ships have few anti-aircraft defence, the fleet can only operate effectively within the range of the Japanese Air Force. But the Navy could operate further from base as part of a joint United States-Japanese fleet. Both countries are united by a mutual security pact, the key element of Japanese security policy.
However, the United States is pushing the Japanese to do more to defend themselves because both countries have a growing concern about expanding Soviet navel power in the Pacific area.