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Japan’s maritime strategy
- Alessio Patalano
* Please note that this event is taking place at Aoyama Gakuin University
Aoyama Gakuin University, Building 17, 3rd Floor, Room 308
address: 4-4-25 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
access: Omotesando Metro station. Exit B1 (5 minutes by foot)
In a summer that started with young people marching in Tokyo against new national security legislations and ended with goose-stepping in Beijing to display the martial prowess, one event went almost unnoticed. On 27 August, the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) launched its fourth flattop, the helicopter destroyer Kaga. The significance of the ceremony was not directly related to the ship, but on what this new platform says about Japan as a modern maritime power. Indeed, in the world’s fastest growing region with heightening competition, what kind of defense capabilities are PM Abe’s reforms creating? Is Japan unchaining itself from post-war pacifism, joining regional balance of power game? Judged against the content of the security legislation and the second consecutive defence budget increase, observers have suggested that the country might be moving away from its established defence posture.
This talk challenges this view. It argues that current examinations of Japanese defence and maritime capabilities fail to acknowledge a transformation that occurred in the 1970s and that set the foundations for the emergence of East Asia’s only sea power. Today, the launching of Kaga is a powerful reminder of the coming to the age of a maritime state with a growing sense of responsibility towards the international order and core concerns in its maritime periphery. Both elements are vital to Japan’s national security and the current transformation of Japanese defence capabilities is not aimed at questioning the foundations of post-war security. They are designed to guarantee a new lease of life.
The core themes discussed in the talk will refer to Dr Patalano’s latest book: Post-war Japan as a Sea Power: Imperial Legacy, Wartime Experience, and the Making of a Navy (Bloomsbury 2015).