Japan's Largest Warship to Guard US Vessel as North Korea Tensions Mount

Tammy Harvey
May 4, 2017

The navy supply ship is likely to provide fuel to other US ships deployed in the Sea of Japan, including those working in concert with a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sent to the region amid heightened tensions over North Korea. The U.S. supply ship is expected to refuel other American warships, including the USS Carl Vinson strike group, now in the region.

The security legislation that took effect previous year which follows looser, more ambiguous constraints imposed on Japanese forces here, in contravention of Japan's war-renouncing constitution, allows for SDF members to escort and guard vessels and weapons that belong to USA forces.

The civic group Yokosuka Peace Squadron also issued a statement protesting Defense Minister Tomomi Inada's decision to demonstrate the U.S.-Japan military alliance.

North Korea on Tuesday reprimanded Japan for intentionally encouraging a Korean Peninsula crisis, bluffing that Japan would suffer the biggest damages if any war breaks out on the peninsula.

The helicopter carrier, Izumo, the largest warship Japan has entered into service since WWII, and widely regarded as de facto aircraft carrier, left its base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, on Monday morning for the mission.

However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expanded the definition of self-defense past year to include protecting Japanese allies and providing logistical support to countries who are important to the defense of the country.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalated as North Korea carried out a number of missile launches and nuclear tests in the recent months, which are considered to be in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

Vinson had just been off the Korean Peninsula in March, conducting a series of exercises with the South Korean navy.

While Japanese tabloids and television programs have reported on nuclear shelters ordered by a handful of rich people or touted gas masks as a more affordable option, it's largely business as usual in Fussa, a town of 58,000 people in Tokyo's western suburbs.

The latest Kyodo News survey showed the Japanese are divided over whether or not to amend the Article 9 of the Constitution, which outlaws war as a means to settle worldwide disputes.

The Terminal High Altitude Defense system set up at a converted golf course in Seongju has "early capability" to respond to North Korea's nuclear and missile threat, Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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