ICJS Event: Alessio Patalano on "The dawn of Japan's expeditionary capability"

Friday, May 23, 2008
7:00 p.m. (talk will start at 7:30 p.m.)
Temple University, Japan Campus, Azabu Hall 212 (Access)
Open to general public. You may purchase a dinner box (bento) at the convenience store next to the school building.
Seating is limited. RSVP recommended.
Registration closed

About Alessio Patalano

Alessio Patalano is Laughton Naval History Scholar and PhD candidate at the Department of war Studies, King's College London. His PhD thesis, titled Kaiji: Imperial Tradition, Strategy and Japan's Contemporary Naval Power, 1991-2006, features an examination of the nature and purpose of Japan's contemporary navy and its influence on national strategy. Alessio holds an MA in War Studies (King's College London), a Master of Research -DEA- (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris), and a BA Hons in Political Science (University of Naples 'Orientale').

Alessio is currently visiting part-time lecturer on The Conduct of War (BA1) at the Department of War Studies Since 2006, he has been a visiting lecturer on Naval Strategy and East Asian Security at the Italian Naval War College (ISMM),.

About the Event

August 23, 2007 marked an important date in the history of the post-war Japanese navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF). In a stirring ceremony held at the Yokohama shipyards of the IHI Marine United, the launching of Japan's long-awaited first flat-top helicopter-carrying destroyer, JDS Hyuga (DDH-181), has awarded the country a place in the exclusive club of the world's top class navies.

Against this backdrop, authoritative assessments suggested that the acquisition of this new platform, which will be followed by a sister-ship planned to enter service in 2011, represents the most evident sign of Japan's Post-Cold War ambitions to move away from its 'defensive defence', acquiring power projection capabilities. In some cases, military analysts argued that the post-9/11 stepping up of the archipelago's military empowerment, encompassing new platforms as much as a widened spectrum of operations, was indicative of a rather sinister phenomenon named 'Heisei militarization' (from the reign name of the current Emperor and reminiscent of the 'Showa militarization' of the 1930s). Japan's more muscular military endeavour would be part of a plan to build-up hard power to address increased regional security concerns and to expand the strategic partnership with the United States. Militarization 'would not be a reversion to the old stereotype of Japan as addicted to militarism, but rather the common and dangerous behaviour of a normal medium-sized state in a militarized world'.

In these assessments, however, only superficial attention is given to the strategic rationale underpinning the acquisition of those enhanced capabilities. Japan is seemingly building-up its military apparatus and heading towards a path of power projection. If so, to what extent and how far new platforms will allow Japan to project military power ashore? If a new sun is rising on the horizon, what is its nature and purpose? This paper addresses these questions arguing that the pre-eminent focus on procurement programmes related to the exercise of sea control, including Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD), Aegis and helicopter-carrying destroyers or tank landing ships, led analysts to mistakenly conclude that Japan is displaying the 'dangerous behaviour' of a medium power. By examining the criteria laying at the foundations of maritime power projection and expeditionary warfare, the paper postulates that Japan's naval power is not radically changing in its nature. It maintains that in light of Japan's growing international commitments and concrete regional concerns, the current evolution of the archipelago's naval force is primarily aiming at the procurement of basic expeditionary capabilities whilst retaining an effective force for localised command of the sea in the East China Sea and Sea of Japan. The structural transformation of the JMSDF is not part of a menacing plan; rather, it embodies the service's attempt to balance a fleet that some experts considered until recently well-suited for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) but incapable of international undertakings because of the lack of assets in the areas of air defence, strategic lift and amphibious warfare. A new sun is rising on the horizon, but is one seeking to contribute to international stability rather than undermining it.

About ICJS

The Institute of Contemporary Japanese Studies (ICJS) is an organization dedicated to fostering study and research on various topics related to contemporary Japan and Asia.

About ICJS

The ICJS is an organization dedicated to fostering study and research on various topics related to contemporary Japan and Asia.