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The Japanese government announced on Tuesday that it will deploy aircraft carriers for the first time since World War II as part of a defense strategy that will involve purchasing a great deal of American military hardware, a course of action U.S. President Donald Trump has strongly urged.
Japan’s aircraft carriers will be the 27,000-ton JS Izumo and Kaga, which currently serve as helicopter carriers. The military will refit the ships to launch U.S.-made F-35B jet fighters, which require very little runway space for takeoff and can land vertically, a capability known as “short takeoff/vertical landing” or STOVL.
Defense - Ministry - Izumo - Kaga - Jets
The Defense Ministry stressed that Izumo and Kaga will not carry fighter jets at all times, only when they are needed to deal with particular security situations. Each ship will be able to carry about a dozen F-35bs, less than one-fifth the strike power carried by current U.S. aircraft carriers and considerably smaller than even the more modest carriers fielded by some other navies.
As Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya put it, the goal is to “increase their applications” rather than converting the ships into power-projection platforms on par with U.S. aircraft carriers – or, more to the point, China’s new aircraft carriers.
South - China - Morning - Post - Concerns
The South China Morning Post quoted concerns from Japanese opposition politicians and some international observers that China will overreact to Japan’s carrier announcement, no matter how hard Tokyo strives to portray the ships as small multipurpose platforms, and use the Japanese carriers as an excuse to ramp up military spending.
One such observer was Hong Kong-based analyst Song Zhongping, who joined many Chinese (and some other Asians, including pacifist Japanese) in viewing Japan’s announcement as the Empire of the Rising Sun clawing its way from the grave of World War Two to menace the Pacific again:
Japan - Aggression
“Japan has so far refused to recognize its aggression against...
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