My WPR column this week is on the future of the JSDF:
As with all military organizations, the JSDF will face conflicting priorities in the future. On the one hand, the growing power of China will push Japan toward high-end military capabilities designed to fight or deter the People’s Liberation Army. On the other, Japan may be inclined to take a larger role in the sort of relief operations that modern military organizations conduct regularly. This isn’t necessarily an either/or proposition: The USS Kearsarge, a big-deck amphibious warship, has conducted airstrikes in Libya, while the supercarrier USS Carl Vinson assisted with relief operations off Haiti. The small aircraft carriers, or “helicopter-carrying destroyers,” that Japan is currently building may someday carry F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, but they might also carry helicopters and other relief supplies for disaster-stricken Pacific islands.