Now that China has unveiled its aircraft carrier, and has shown evidence that it is building several more aircraft carriers, Japan has gotten into the act. This is the Izumo, Japan’s largest warship since 1945.
The Japanese government claims that the ship was built for only helicopters, and not jets. Presumably, if the carrier deployed fighter jets, it would violate the Japanese constitution, which limits the Japanese military to self-defense. However, at 820 ft in length, the Izumo is certainly long enough to deploy fighter jets, once a catapult system were retrofitted to it.
We are agnostic as to this new development. The whole security system of East Asia is based upon pax Americana–the US government is bound by treaty to protect Japan, South Korea, and any number of other places in Asia, if they are attacked. However, with Obama in the White House and men like Rand Paul gaining ascendency within the GOP, it is hard to believe that such guarantees are worth the paper they were signed upon. It is wise for Japan to rearm.
Yet, with people like Taro Aso in the Japanese government (a man who thinks Japan could learn from the Nazis), and with the ruling party’s love affair with Yasukuni Shrine, a rearmed Japan should rightfully send shivers down the spines of many in Asia.
The best solution is for the US to reaffirm that it will keep its treaty obligations in Asia. Yet, somehow that seems unlikely to happen.