Japan has a long history of naval warfare. Its technological innovations, such as the iron-hulled warships Atakebune created in 1576, and its relentless fight against pirates allowed the Japanese Imperial Navy to become a formidable naval power in Asia. The sakoku, a policy of seclusion, led Japan to an international isolation of two centuries. This isolation ended with the Kanagawa Convention of 1854 and the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce of 1858. The need to develop a strong naval force was accentuated in 1868 when a revolution was instigated by Navy Admiral Enomoto Takeaki and international assistance was required. A necessary realization that led to the expansion of the Imperial Japanese Navy under the influence of the United Kingdom and French navies.
As the 20th century began, the Imperial Japanese Navy would became a significant part of Japan’s history. During the first Sino-Japanese War, Japan relied on its naval forces in order to maintain control of the seas. Then, they could apply pressure against China. Japan was forced to renounce seized Chinese territory during the Triple Intervention. Thereby, the naval forces of Japan quickly realized that they would need to continue building power. The Japanese naval forces became the fourth world power. They formed an alliance with Britain to protect their interests in Asia. Through this alliance, the Imperial Japanese Navy played a major role in the First World War Entente.
During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Navy realized their navy was smaller than the navy of the United States. Therefore they decided to rely on brutal naval strategy and careful alliances in order to overcome the larger power. The country made several fatal mistakes in their naval strategy lack of intelligence agents and disinterest in antisubmarine warfare. The Imperial Japanese Navy was quickly overcome by its shortage of information and naval support. As a result of Japan’s defeat in World War II, the Japanese Imperial Navy was quickly dissolved. The occupying United States forces permitted Japan to establish new self-defense forces under Article 9 of the new constitution of Japan. Thus was born the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
How does the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force fight Maritime Crime
Even today, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force plays a major role in reducing maritime crime. It operates mainly in the Southeast Asian and at the Pacific Ocean’s broader. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is frequently called upon by the United Nations. It has served global interests through participating in the Operation Enduring Freedom to escort allied sea vessels and by participating in peacekeeping missions. The Operation Gulf Dawn, which was aimed at clearing underwater mines laid by Saddam Hussein’s forces, was one such mission. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has also maintained active engagement against North Korea. This includes developing ship-based anti-ballistic missile systems and repelling North Korean spy ships.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force remains actively involved in anti-piracy operations, and has used its military ships to escort allied sea vessels and conduct counterpiracy measures against pirates off Somalia’s coast as reported in 2020. Since 2009, Japan deploys destroyers and patrol aircraft to escort trade ships and monitor the Gulf of Aden. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense is involved in the Combined Task Force 151, and took its command plural times since 2013.
Their commitment to fighting back against illegal fishing and supporting a healthy marine biodiversity has been demonstrated as recently as 2020 with the passage of new legislation against the illegal import of unregulated seafood. The illicit smuggling of drugs and human trafficking have also been a major focus of the JMSDF, as the naval branch continues to collaborate with the U.S. Navy on countermeasures. While the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force has proven itself to be a formidable naval power, it is likely that they will continue to face significant challenges in handling North Korea, China, and the broader affairs of maritime law in the Pacific Ocean.
Future of the JMSDF
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force only continues to grow more formidable with each passing year. It is known as one of the most powerful navies in the world, and is widely lauded for its involvement in protecting the interests of the United Nations and its international allies. In many ways, the JMSDF appears to have a bright future.
Japan continues to invest in expanding its naval strategy and forces, and their commitment to protecting the interests of Japanese citizens and their marine ecology demonstrates their forward-thinking approach. Unfortunately, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force faces many future challenges. Aside from the demanding affairs of combating piracy, illegal fishing, drug smuggling, and human trafficking, the JMSDF will also need to remain powerful enough to protect Japan from the mounting pressures from North Korea and China.
Japan is expected to host the G7 in 2023 in the city of Hiroshima from May 19 to 21. This summit could be an opportunity to discuss the threats to global security in the region. Chinese pressure weighs on the Indo-Pacific area.
The Communist Republic looms over Japanese maritime territory. The Shenkaku Islands, also known as the Diaoyu Islands, are claimed by both China and Japan. The issue is a source of tension and in March Japanese troops were placed on the island. Chinese coastguards were intercepted in Japanese territorial waters. These unauthorized maritime incursions are a constant threat to Japan’s maritime sovereignty.
While it seems like the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is stepping up to the challenge, only time will tell if their efforts were sufficient.