By many basic measures, the JMSDF (not a "Navy", but a "Maritime Self-Defence Force...) is, on numbers, second perhaps only to the United States as a naval power. They are second to the US Navy in Escorts (FF/FFG/DD/DDG) and may of the newer AEGIS destroyers are more capable than the US versions they were based upon. They have more submarines than the UK or France, admittedly they are all non-nuclear boats but it must be noted as diesel-electrics they are world class. As noted by a previous poster, the Japanese are an island nation dependent on imported raw materials and exported finished goods (just as we were when we made anything of note...) the fact they are now beginning to deploy "Helicopter Carrying Destroyers" is a natural progression, and whilst they are "Carrier like" in appearance they are not "strike" weapons by any stretch of the imagination. If they do opt for F-35 in the future they will be in limited numbers more akin to the air-group of a Wasp class LPD and would act, firstly, as a CAP for the vesell and the task group accompanying it and secondly as a land-attack back up like our Sea Harriers in the Falklands. As ASW carriers they are logical and the best "fit" for a Japan that would rightly fear a (Chinese?) "U-Boat blockade" like the one endured by the UK in WWII and the one prosecuted by the US Navy against Japan in the same war, with arguably more effective results...
All in all a nice headline, but not something for Josh Hartnett and that ginger bloke from "Train Spotting" to worry about...
Well with this thing going to come out of Chinese port in the next few years followed by how many other bigger carriers they build, I'd be bulking up too.
Ex Soviet carrier Varyag, originally sold to the chinese to be a casino, surprise surprise she was taken over by the PLAN......they are working flat out to get her out to sea, there are other pics of her being worked on in the middle of the night.
I know this build programme breaks the constitution,
but in 1991 JSFD mine sweepers were sent to the Arabian gulf. and from a pic on this site Japanese forces were deployed in 2003. and all this kind of brings them out of the role of self defence. and it not as though they're off to attack america again.
You'd be hard pressed to underestimate the extent of paranoia about Japanese military intentions in their former colonies. Every slightest move away from the strictly pacifist observance of their constitution provokes defence spending in China, Taiwan, Korea, etc.
Those countries seem to have longer memories than us. No wonder.