Yokosuka base, Japan, 2008: Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Forces’ destroyer Murasame supported anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan on the Indian Ocean (source: dpa)

Japan’s quiet build-up to naval pre-eminence in East Asia

A precept of strategic planning is to study a country’s military capabilities rather than its presumed intentions. Japan’s practically unnoticed return to the ranks of first-class naval powers is a case in point. The country has many reasons to downplay its resurgent sea power to domestic and foreign audiences. But the island nation’s determination to protect its sea lanes is not in doubt as China flexes its muscles.

Overshadowed by Beijing’s relentless build-up of naval bases in the South China Sea, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) launched its second helicopter carrier of the Izumo class, the Kaga, on August 27, 2015. While Japan offi...

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Dr. Stefan Lippert
The strategic shift towards naval and amphibious capabilities has not become a political issue in Japan. That is partly because the Self-Defence Forces operate behind a carefully maintained veil of secrecy
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