Japan’s Giant New Destroyer Sends A Clear Message To China, The World; Alarming signs of Japan’s rearmament

Japan’s Giant New Destroyer Sends A Clear Message To China, The World

GEOFFREY INGERSOLL AUG. 6, 2013, 4:04 PM 22,957 76

japan-new-carrier

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.

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.

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.

Alarming signs of Japan’s rearmament

English.news.cn   2013-08-07

by Yuan Zhenyu

BEIJING, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) — Japan held a peace memorial Tuesday in Hiroshima to mark the 68th anniversary of a U.S. atomic bombing, which caused massive casualties and severe property damage.

On the same day, in a not-so-peaceful ceremony, Japan unveiled at a port near Tokyo the largest warship of its Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The giant vessel was named Izumo, namesake of a Japanese cruiser once used during the invasion of China in the early 20th century.

Although it’s called a “helicopter-equipped destroyer,” the new vessel, with a length of 248 meters and a weight of 19,500 tons, is much more like an aircraft carrier.

Being able to accommodate 14 helicopters, the ship is also available for the U.S. Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. With minor modifications, it can be remodeled to a fully-functioning aircraft carrier, which is generally considered as offensive weapons and therefore prohibited by the Japanese constitution.

The Article 9 of Japan’s current constitution reads that “land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.”

So launching such a de facto aircraft carrier is in flagrant violation of the pacifist clause, and another alarming sign as the Japanese government is mulling to ditch the pacifist constitution and bolster the country’s military forces.

In an earlier provocation which incurred strong protest from both inside Japan and neighboring countries, Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said last week that Japan could “learn from the technique” that Nazi Germany used to alter the Weimar constitution.

The gaffe-prone Japanese politician seemed to suggest that, just as the Nazi regime clandestinely rebuilt a formidable army, Japan could quietly bolster its military without drawing public attention or criticism.

In the eyes of many in the region, the launch of Izumo, namesake of a sunken WWII Japanese warship, and Aso’s proposal on picking up Nazi tactics, indicate an attempt to resurrect the skeletons of Japan’s inglorious militaristic past.

Thus, there are enough reasons for the international community to be wary of a potential revival of Japan’s militarism.

Japan’s covert rearmament cause under the disguise of “self-defense” would drag Asian countries into an arms race, threatening the region’s stability.

During the Hiroshima peace ceremony, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo vowed to ensure that “the horror and devastation caused by nuclear weapons are not repeated.”

To do so, Japan must reflect upon its history of aggression, stop rearmament, and return to the path of peace.

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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