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Japan Just Flexed Its Old Fleet of Destroyers on Twitter. But Why? 

Japan is the 5th most powerful military in the world.
IMAGE JAPAN MARITIME SELF-DEFENSE FORCE
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The official account of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force or JMSDF has posted a photo of its 11 destroyers sailing next to each other. It wasn’t clear when the photo was taken, or whether the warships in the photo were taking part in a maritime exercise anywhere.

The warships are Hatsayuki-class destroyers, created in the late 1980s and deployed in the 1990s as a response to the growing threat of Russian submarines in the Pacific. The Hatsayuki-class warships were designed to be general-purpose destroyers that can seek out submarines and function as air defense at sea. 

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“The JMSDF did not provide a specific date or time for the photo. However, the appearance of the Hatsuyuki class’s oldest ship, DD-122, in the image indicates that it was taken before the ship was decommissioned in 2010,” writes the Eurasian Times

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The JMSDF has pinned the post to its Twitter page. Although the age of the photo is suspicious, the timeliness of the posting is also interesting. 

Japan is participating in RIMPAC 2022, the largest naval drill in the world, alongside the U.S., the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. It involves tens of thousands of crew and personnel from the countries’ navy and air force. But the fleet of Hatsayuki-class destroyers were not among the warships sent by Japan to any naval drill lately. 

In a tweet today, June 20, Japan’s Ministry of Defense flaunted the Izumo and the Takanami, which joined U.S. warships in joint naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean. 

“We will strengthen the deterrence and coping power of the Japan-U.S. alliance and contribute to the defense of Japan and the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific and the world,” the Japanese Ministry of Defense wrote.  

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But that does not explain why Japan is flexing its old warships on Twitter. It could just be optics. 

Are we seeing a more aggressive Japan?

Photo by Todd Cichonowicz / U.S. Navy.

In recent years, Japan has taken a more proactive stance when it comes to issues concerning global security. Japan’s recent pronouncements and posting on Twitter are signs that the country has no intention of sitting out the tensions in the South China Sea.

For many decades since its defeat in World War II, Japan has taken a generally defensive stance on military affairs. That has a lot to do with its pacifist Constitution, which prohibits the government from building up its military beyond what is needed for the country’s defense. 

It is no secret that the United States is relying very heavily on Japan to keep its side of the Pacific safe from the expansionist ambitions of China. In other words, Japan is tasked to keep the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea in check for the U.S.

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That is why Japan has been helping allied countries such as the Philippines in bolstering its defense capabilities. The country built the Philippine Coast Guard’s two largest and most advanced flagships, the BRP Melchora Aquino and the BRP Teresa Magbanua. Japan has also promised to send air defense radars to the Philippines.

Japan considers the Philippines a “strategic point for security” because of its geographical location in Southeast Asia. Helping to improve the Philippines’ security capabilities is seen as beneficial to Japan’s own security interests. 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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