Yes, Japan Is Still Pacifist
On July 1, the cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced an evolution in Japan’s military doctrine. The government has reinterpreted the restrictions governing Japan’s use of force in international disputes. The new decision reverses the postwar understanding that the constitution completely forbids Tokyo from defending its allies from... Read more
Japan’s Ears on the Sea
Strategically speaking, Japan’s expansive archipelago is a barricade. Japan’s near seas include many of the most important choke-points granting other countries access to the Pacific. Dominating these key straits is one of Tokyo’s top priorities. For this task, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s two ocean surveillance vessels are particularly... Read more
Eating Too Much Rice Almost Sank the Japanese Navy
In August 1882 in Incheon Bay near Seoul, four Japanese warships were locked in a tense stand-off with two Chinese warships that had brought troops to quell a revolt on the Korean peninsula. On paper, the Japanese flotilla outnumbered the Chinese, but the hulls of the Japanese ships hid... Read more
Ten Years Ago, Japan Went to Iraq… And Learned Nothing
A decade ago, Japan sent troops to Iraq. The Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group was Tokyo’s first multilateral military mission outside of U.N. peacekeeping operations. To observers at the time, it felt like a watershed moment for a country that, since World War II, has been reluctant to... Read more
Japan’s New Destroyers Are Intentional Missile-Magnets
On March 12 and 13, the Japanese navy will receive the new Akizuki-class destroyers Suzutsuki and Fuyuzuki. The 6,800-ton warships bristle with weaponry—and for a reason. The two new destroyers are meant to draw enemy fire away from the larger Kongo-class vessels, Tokyo’s most sophisticated naval combatants. If they’re... Read more
So This Is Weird—Japanese Navy Sailors Bathe in Seawater
Japanese love to bathe. A large majority takes a bath every evening. Lots of people are willing to travel just for a chance to bathe in one of Japan’s many hot springs. But what about all those thousands of poor souls aboard Japan’s warships, where water is at a... Read more
‘Door Kickers’ Breathes Life Into Tactical Games
Genre saturation is a peculiar force in the video game world. At the turn of the millennium, you couldn’t walk into a video game store without knocking over promotional material for the next big World War II shooter (Medal of Honor: Allied Assault), simulation (Il-2 Sturmovik) or strategy game... Read more
Japan’s in a Catch-22 Whether to Shoot Down China’s Drones
No other nation except for Japan — aside from perhaps Germany — has in its history been so traumatized by the loss of its skies. Japan was so badly devastated by bombing in World War II, that Tokyo has done everything it can since to ensure control over its... Read more
Japan’s Cute Offensive
“We’ll PROTECT YOU, JAPAN” SDF AICHI PCO art Japan’s Cute Offensive Meet the official mascots of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces Japan has gone completely mental for local mascots. Every city has one to their name, some have even more — many are forgettable and many are downright creepy. Companies... Read more
North Korea is Prepping a Hovercraft Invasion Force
North Korean troops carry out beach landing drills with their hovercraft — but how many of them are real? Source: KCNA/KNS via The Atlantic North Korea is Prepping a Hovercraft Invasion Force Provided the air cushion vehicles don’t rust away first In March the North Korean press office— the... Read more

James Simpson

Contributor

Japan-based writer covering Japanese security news and military history.