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Japan’s Maritime Chief Takei: U.S. Industry, Military Key to Address Western Pacific Security Threats

Adm. Tomohisa Takei, chief of staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, on Feb. 18, 2016. US Naval Institute Photo

Adm. Tomohisa Takei, chief of staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, on Feb. 18, 2016. US Naval Institute Photo

SAN DIEGO — The head of Japan’s naval force said the U.S. defense industry and military services can take bigger roles in helping his forces communicate and operate more jointly in Asia-Pacific and safeguard his nation’s security and regional interests.

That capability for joint operations is critically important as Japan revises its security posture and adapts its self-defense forces to tackle major security and defense concerns, Adm. Tomohisa Takei, chief of staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, told a defense conference audience Feb. 18 attending West 2016.

Takei noted four important international factors driving the change: China’s rapid modernization and mobilization of its military and expansion of blue-water capabilities. North Korea’s missile developments and Russia’s rising naval activities in the region. Transnational threats from natural disasters, cross-border crimes, piracy and terrorists. Maintaining a tight relationship with U.S. Navy. Of the latter, Takei said, “It is necessary to introduce the newest technology and tactics from the U.S. Navy.”

Takei, with just rare assistance of a translator, spoke during the session moderated by retired Adm. Thomas Fargo on the second day of the conference hosted by U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA International. Fargo is a former head of U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet and the current chairman of the board of directors of Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc.

Takei also noted two key domestic concerns that impact Japan’s defense posture. The first is its aging population and tight government budgets. “The young generation is shrinking rapidly,” said Takei. “We already are in competition with private companies for recruits” and it’s bound to get even tougher in coming years. Secondly, Japan faces limitations in what its private industries can do in support of strengthening its defense forces. “It’s become harder and harder to acquire enough defense capability,” he noted.

But will that change? Most of Japan’s major defense corporate industries do largely commercial business, with defense work accounting for less than 10 percent. “It seems hard to expect further investment (from them) for unstable and unforseen international defense business,” he said, noting the defense industry “is hesitant to step forth.” Moreover, he added, “Japanese public opinion is against weapons export.”

Still, there may be room for cooperative development. “Japanese defense industry has high-end technology, but there’s a lack of expertise and experience” in developing these jointly with other international partners, Takei said. “The biggest concern is the leaking of security information.” Many defense companies are small branch companies of larger companies, he said, but he sees potential in cooperating “as a partner in development or supplier of some part” for U.S.-made equipment, perhaps in the area of communications and information technology. “Japan cannot be a key player… but a key partner for U.S. industry in the future,” he added.

China, with its military modernization and expansion, remains a sensitive yet significant issue for Japan.

“China is a very important country among the Asia-Pacific countries. China is expected to play a significant role in the Pacific security,” Takei said, speaking in Japanese to address the question more clearly. “Already, the Chinese Navy is involved in anti-piracy operations off the Somalia coast. They are engaged in modernization of their military powers — both quantity wise and quality wise — and it is a major concern. The not-transparant nature of their armament is a big concern to the neighboring countries.”

“Their South China Sea activities to change the status quo of the region is a big concern around the region,” he said. “The Japanese government stance is that these issues should be resolved through a peaceful method and also according to international law.”

U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships underway in formation as part of a photo exercise on the final day of Keen Sword 2011. US Navy Photo

U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships underway in formation as part of a photo exercise on the final day of Keen Sword 2011. US Navy Photo

“Yesterday,” he added in English, “the defense minister of Japan mentioned that Japan strongly supports U.S. freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.”

China has condemned recent operations of U.S. ships in that region, claiming violations of its territorial borders. But U.S. officials including U.S. Pacific Command’s top officer, Adm. Harry Harris, insist naval ships will continue to transit and operate in the area because they are free to be in international waters.

Japan’s maritime force was established in 1952 but vastly differs from its predecessor, the Imperial Japanese Navy, a blue-water force that operated for 77 years. Its role largely in self-defense is changing as government leaders have revised the security policy and are reforming the force to counter growing threats in the region, particularly from China and its liberal claims of the South China Sea and critical rock mounds and islets in an area rich in fishing and natural resources. “We need to adapt ourselves to the new security environment,” Takei said, adding an important piece is having a “sound” relationship between the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy.

In adjusting to the new joint security environment, Japan’s maritime force must adapt itself to tackle such threats — and that means having the ability to seamlessly train and interoperate with allies and partners including the United States. So strong and integrated command, control, communications, computers and information (C4I) systems are critical needs.

“We have to continue to build secure and intergrated C4I networks to support the interoperability especially between the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy. A shared C4I system between our forces ensures good and effective operations,” Takei said, speaking from prepared remarks. “In general, I am concerned that if we don’t adapt to the security environment, it’s going to be gaps in the alliance.”

Takei said such efforts help maintain the U.S.-Japan alliance, much like a flower that needs regular care and watering. He heaped thanks to the United States, in particular the U.S. Navy and ships including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), for coming to Japan’s aid after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The response further strengthened the alliance, he said, adding “the people of Japan have not forgotten what that ship had done for our country.”

“Interoperability is key to connect the navies tight,” he said.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Takei sounds like a great Naval leader, and his speaking English is a real plus. I’m hoping for bigger and better things from our cooperation with Japan and other SCS countries, to counter the PLAN’s rapidly growing military threat there.

  • John B. Morgen

    The Japanese need to modify their Constitution to allow the JMSDF to build 60,000+ ton aircraft carriers, cruisers, more destroyers and submarines etc. Or establish and deploy four or five carrier battle groups; plus, supporting warships. This is what we need for our partnership with the Japanese.

    • Secundius

      Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, prevent the Use of Offensive Weaponry (including Aircraft Carriers). Constitution was written when the United States was STILL an Occupation Force in Japan. A Provision in the Article requires USA, Russia, China and South Korea to “Sign-Off” on a Amended Constitution. Fat Chance of That Happening with the PRC and the Russian Federation, doing that…

      • John B. Morgen

        The Japanese could simply ignore the signature requirements, if both the United States and South Korea give their blessings. Keep in mind that Hitler bypassed the French when he rearmed the German Navy by signing the Anglo-German Naval treaty in 1935 with Great Britain. At that time, Great Britain was the world;s super naval power, and every navy was following her paradigm. Both China and Russia have been in longed but prolong disputes over Japanese territories, namely over islands; thus, the Japanese have no recourse, but to take the rearmament option. Such an option would be protecting their sovereignty; therefore, all treaty restrictions are moot. The political climate is just right for the Japanese to change their Constitution because this time period is about [change].

        • Secundius

          @ John B. Morgen.

          NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Back in the late ’90’s, I worked a George Mason University in Fairfax City, Virginia. A Group of Japanese Exchange Students were Eating in one of the Three Student Union Buildings, watching the History Channel on one of the Large Screen TV/Monitors. It was about the Japanese involvement in WW2. They WERE APPLAUD, by what they were seeing, and Demanding to Know WHY the History Channel were Showing LIES about the Japanese involvement in WW2. Apparently in Japan, their Education System, DEPICTS the Japanese as VICTIMS and NOT as the Aggressors of the WAR. They had to come 6,800-miles to Learn the Truth. Even their Professors, admitted to their Japanese Students the REAL TRUTH and not FALSE TRUTH that were ALL Taught While Growing Up in Japanese Public School System. The Japanese People ARE NOT “NOW” OR “EVER” Going Back too the Second WW Mentality that Japan WAS. Defensive/Supporting Force YES, Offensive Force NO WAY…

          • John B. Morgen

            The Japanese were partially victimized by the West by making the Japanese to believed that were equals, which they were not treated as such. At first, the British used Japan as a counter-weight against Imperial Russia that lead into an alliance, but after the Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905 the relationship began to deteriorate because Japan started to assert oneself in Asia which endangered both European and American interests. Another factor was the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which Japan was not treated an equal member. Next was the Japanese immigration into the United States, whereby the Japanese were meant with hostility from the Americans; the “[Yellow Peril].”
            Although, the Japanese were the aggressors for starting the Pacific War, and many times the Japanese government has refused to take full responsibility for Japan’s acts of aggression, but lately their stance has been watered down because lately the Japanese government agreed to pay the South Korean women damages for forced prostitution, for the Japanese Imperial Army during the war.
            Japan is changing but slowly, and I disagree that Japan would return to the old ways of Imperial Japan because the whole political spectrum between the Western world has changed. No! Japan has to change its Constitution in order to protect the Western Pacific from the Chinese, and we need Japan to build and deploy carrier battle groups.

          • Secundius

            @ John B. Morgen.

            Outside of “Letting Out the Seams or Hemline”, I don’t see them doing Anything Major. Like with Germany, 75 Plus Years have made them “Complacent” That WE’LL Always Be There For Them and Take the BRUNT…

          • John B. Morgen

            Japan’s [“Ice Age”] is thawing more has the JMDSF is adding more major surface warships into the Fleet. The evidence shows this because Japan has added four small aircraft carriers, which latter two carriers were larger than the first two. Japan is taking small steps as an emerging deep blue navy because the next two aircraft carriers will be much larger than the first four carriers. Japan is preparing the international community about the coming change of JMSDF policy.

          • Secundius

            @ John B. Morgen.

            The Izumo class Helicopter Destroyer or Through-Deck Destroyer is the JMSDF Largest Ships to Date. With a Limited Assault Capability (Rescue Ship). ONLY “TWO” Are Planned, Adding to the Mix Doesn’t Change Their Mission Mandate. I think You’re Reading More Into the Story, Than There’s Actually There. There are NO Plan’s to build ANYTHING Larger that the Current Mix of Two 19,000-ton Hyuga class Helicopter-Destroyers and the Two Izumo class 27,000-ton Helicopter-Destroyers. THEM’s IT CHIEF…

          • John B. Morgen

            The Japanese are masters of playing with semantics, in order to avoid conflicts with the Japanese Constitution. Both the Hyuga and Izumo classes are [NOT] destroyers, but as aircraft carriers because of their constructional designs. This business of referring to such warships as [“Through-deck”] cruisers/destroyers is simply non-sense. It is a folly to think otherwise because any warship that has a flight deck from bow to the stern is always referred as an aircraft carrier—period! …

          • Secundius

            Destroyer + Flight Deck? Helicopter-Destroyer and Up To 28 Helicopters! Ughh, ughh, I Know. “Though-Deck”…

          • John B. Morgen

            “Though-deck” is nothing but plain jargon of nonsense that someone coined when Britain built the Illustrious class aircraft carriers. I have read that a group of people at White Hall were dead against of the Royal Navy having anymore conventional designed aircraft carriers, so they pushed this nonsense concept down the Royal Navy’s throats which it got on, somewhat throughout the world naval community… Even the United States Navy thought about the idea of having such aircraft carriers, by using converted USS Spruance class hulls but none were built..

          • Secundius

            And I’ve the Plans of the Spruance-variant Through-Deck Destroyer. Six Aircraft’s TOTAL, (4) Harriers and (2) SH-3 Seasprites with a Single Deck Elevator. The Term “Through-Deck” was used to Circumvent the “Montreux Convention” which DIDN’T allow the Passage of Aircraft Carrier’s…

          • John B. Morgen

            As far as I know, there only been two official designs, (DD-963AC AND DD-963H), which uses modified Spruance class so-called destroyers. Then there’s an unofficial design that is very similar to the British Invincible class aircraft carriers.
            This latter design was from Commander Gbiradella’s concept of enlarging a Sqruance class hull to 606 feet long. Such a small aircraft carrier would be capable of carrying; 12 helicopters, or eight helicopters and with Harriers. Is this the Spruance variant that you were referring to?

            Back to the DD-963H variant design, this was more about removing the Sparrow SAM launcher by extending the helo-deck slightly.

            As for the DD-963AC variant, it was very similar to the British cruisers HMS Blake and Tiger had over-extended helo decks, with large hangars that can housed four helicopters. However, the American design was meant to carry four helicopters, or four Harriers. The Navy did applied for funding in the Fiscal Year 1979 budget.

            In sum, the Commander Gibiradella’s design would have been the better design, and such a small CV would be ideal to operate among with cruiser/destroyer squadrons.

            Sorry for the belated response.