The Straits Times says

Japan edges towards a 'normal' military

Ever since the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service substantially wiped out the US Pacific Fleet, leading America to enter World War II, Japanese aircraft carriers have carried a particular resonance in the region now referred to as the Indo-Pacific. The more than 300 Japanese planes that bombed Hawaii took off from six carriers that secretly sailed to the Pacific Ocean. And while Japan lived to regret its actions, the immediate reaction worldwide was one of shock and awe. Since then, the US' commitment to a strong Pacific Command and firm guarantees of underwriting Japanese security so it needs no military of its own have been a bedrock of US external military policy.

Under the terms of this arrangement, responsibility for protecting US military assets in the waters near and in Japan - and these assets dot various islands that form the Japanese nation - fell on Tokyo. This stood for many years but latterly, Japan, nudged in part by the US, has been preparing to shoulder more responsibility for its defence as well as equip itself to come to the aid of allies. There also are stirrings of a nascent military industrial complex. With its deep strength in metals and industrial engineering in general, Japan could be a formidable force in everything from underwater vessels - witness the quality of its Soryu Class submarines - to aircraft. Already, its US-2 amphibian planes are considered best in class.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2018, with the headline 'Japan edges towards a 'normal' military'. Print Edition | Subscribe