Japan rising watch

In Yokosuka on August 23rd, the Hyuga, the new JMSDF helicopter carrier, was named, and now it will undergo some finishing touches before entering service in 2009.

According to Nikkei, its displacement is 13,500 tons and its length 197 meters. The deck can service three helicopters simultaneously. By comparison, the USS George H.W. Bush, also due to enter service in 2008 or 2009, displaces between 101,000 and 104,000 tons, is 333 meters long, and will carry 90 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters.

Why compare the Hyuga with an American supercarrier? Because before Norimitsu Onishi and others hyperventilate about this latest sign of “Japan rising,” it’s important to keep things in perspective. As the MSDF points out in the Nikkei article, “This warship does not have the ability to mount an attack. It can be used for transportation and other multiple purposes at the time of large-scale disasters.”

Here’s hoping that the Hyuga will see years of service enabling Japan to meet its commitments as a regional power.

One thought on “Japan rising watch

  1. Anonymous

    Japan may not be \’rising\’ in any real sense, but presumably the acquisition of a helicopter carrier is more than just business as usual. No matter how one looks at it, these vessels allow a country to play a considerably larger role than they would have otherwise done. While most carriers are designed purely to project power, others are built for anti-submarine warfare. It looks as if this vessel is designed to do just that: Provide defense against China\’s rising submarine fleet. And if the Japanese admiralty claims the ship will not have the capacity to mount an attack, it is lying. According to this article, the ship will be equipped with missiles and attack helicopters, which can destroy submarines and other land- and sea-based targets.This is a clear indication of Japan\’s changing strategic environment, and of the country\’s growing maritime power.

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