Japanese submarine conducts first drills in South China Sea

Reuters – A Japanese submarine has for the first time joined a naval drill in the South China Sea in an expansion of Japanese activity in the disputed waterway claimed by China and others.

Japanese destroyer shoots down ballistic missile off Hawaii

Defense News – Japanese Aegis destroyer Atago detected and shot down a short-range ballistic missile in space Tuesday in a joint test with the U.S. Navy using the SM-3 Block IB missile.

Annual White Paper on Defense

Japanese Ministry of Defense – An excellent look at how the Japanese see the Chinese threat to Japan.

Japan’s Defense Readiness: Prospects and Issues in Operationalizing Air and Maritime Supremacy

US Naval War College Review – Facing a fluid regional security environment and the need to strengthen its alliance role, Japan has worked to increase the capabilities of the Japan Self-Defense Forces by adjusting the relevant bureaucratic, political, and operational frameworks and making key investments in new force structures.

Japan’s New Super-Sized Destroyer Will Help Defend Against Ballistic Missiles And More

War Zone – The pair of ships could shoot down North Korea missiles, as well as challenge Chinese claims and aid Japan in projecting power beyond its shores.

Japanese helicopter carrier Kaga to embark on two-month tour of South China Sea and Indian Ocean

Japan Times – Japan will send a large helicopter carrier to the South China Sea and Indian Ocean for a second straight year as it looks to bolster its presence in the strategic maritime region with annual tours.

Japan activates first marines since WWII to bolster defenses against China

Reuters – Japan on Saturday activated its first marine unit since World War II trained to counter invaders occupying Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea that Tokyo fears are vulnerable to attack by China.

Japan launches amphibious unit, but equipping concerns remain

Defense News – Japan has launched its first full-scale amphibious operations unit as part of a sweeping reorganization of its ground force, but questions remain about equipment delays and future basing.

In major shake-up, Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force gets centralized command amid regional tensions

Japan Times – The Ground Self-Defense Force underwent its biggest organizational shake-up Tuesday, with command streamlined for flexible nationwide operations and the creation of amphibious forces tasked with defending remote islands.

Officials Admit Japan’s ‘Helicopter Destroyers’ Were Also Designed For Jets

War Zone – The Japanese government has consistently and vehemently denied that its hulking helicopter carriers were built with tactical jets in mind.

Australia and Japan Expected to Finalize Visiting Forces Agreement Next Month

USNI News – Japan and Australia are close to inking their first visiting forces agreement, which would pave the way to smoother combined military operations.

Japan considers refitting helicopter carrier for stealth fighters

Reuters – Japan is considering refitting the Izumo helicopter carrier so that it can land F-35B stealth fighters, as Tokyo faces China’s maritime expansion and North Korea’s missile and nuclear development.

Japan Cabinet Approves Aegis Ashore Buy to Supplement DDGs In Ballistic Missile Defense

USNI News – The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved the purchase of two Aegis Ashore missile defense systems this week to counter the threat of ballistic missiles from North Korea.

Japan’s military begins major drill with U.S. carriers watching North Korea

Reuters – Japan’s navy and air force began a three-day military exercise with two U.S. aircraft carriers in the Sea of Japan on Thursday adding pressure on North Korea to halt an accelerating ballistic missile program.

Japan’s growing concern over China’s naval might

BBC – The pride of Japan’s naval defence, the JS Izumo, is making an unprecedented journey through Asian waters over the next three months.

Japan Considering Buying Tomahawks for Destroyer Fleet to Deter North Korea

USNI News – Officials in Japan are weighing arming their fleet of guided-missile destroyers with Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles as a hedge against North Korean missile attacks.

Japan sends biggest warship to protect US supply vessel

BBC – Japan has dispatched its biggest warship, the helicopter carrier Izumi, to escort a US supply vessel within Japanese waters, in the first such operation since it passed controversial laws expanding the role of its military.

Japanese warships join with carrier Vinson on exercises

Defense News – Two Japanese destroyers joined up with the Carl Vinson carrier strike group in the Philippine Sea Sunday for renewed bilateral exercises, the Japan-based U.S. Seventh Fleet announced. The Vinson is headed north for the Sea of Japan in an expression of U.S. resolve as North Korea continues to develop offensive ballistic missiles with nuclear capability.

Japanese warships to join US fleet near North Korea as tensions rise

The Guardian – Japan is preparing to send several warships to join a US aircraft carrier strike group heading for the Korean peninsula, in a show of force designed to deter North Korea from conducting further missile and nuclear tests.

Second of MSDF’s largest warship comes into service

Asahi Shimbun – The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Kaga helicopter carrier, its joint-largest warship, was commissioned here on March 22.

Japan plans to send largest warship to South China Sea

Reuters – Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship, the helicopter carrier Izumo, on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.

Japan to speed up frigate build to reinforce East China Sea

Reuters – Japan plans to accelerate a warship building program to make two frigates a year to patrol the fringes of the East China Sea, where it disputes island ownership with China.

Sun, Sand, and Sentinels

The Economist – As geopolitical tensions grow in East Asia, so does the discomfort of the Ryukyu Islands.

Islands on the frontline of a new global flashpoint: China v Japan

The Guardian – Ishigaki Island does not look like a frontline. Japan’s own tropical idyll, it is a sleepy place of pineapple fields and mango orchards, where thousands of tourists potter along white sand beaches and scuba dive in crystal clear seas. Yet this tiny dot on the edge of the Pacific is the closest Japanese town to the uninhabited but fiercely disputed Senkaku Islands, once inhospitable home to a tuna processing factory, now abandoned but key to lucrative fishing grounds, oil and gas fields and a strategic shipping route.

Japan to join US in South China Sea patrols

CNN – Japan is planning on upping its activities in the South China Sea through joint training patrols with the United States and exercises with regional navies, Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said.