A Japanese ASW Task Force Ventures Into the South China Sea


The Japanese Self Defense force rarely mentions the operations of their submarines, short of participating in an exercise with the United States.

But in a recent announcement by the Japanese, they highlighted that the Kuroshio, the helicopter carrier Kaga and two other destroyers, the Inazuma and Suzutsuki, conducted an antisubmarine warfare exercise last Thursday in the waterway.

A Japanese submarine was involved in the exercise and “left the MSDF base in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, on Aug. 27 for the drill. The three other ships were separately dispatched to the exercise area, which encompasses the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, for a period lasting from Aug. 26 to Oct. 30.”
The Kuroshio then made a port call at Vietnam’s strategic Cam Ranh Bay port.
According to an article by Chieko Tsuneoka and Peter Landers published in The Wall Street Journal on September 17, 2018, the importance of the exercise was highlighted.
It’s part of a strategic message that Japan would like to send to China and the countries in the region,” said Narushige Michishita, a professor specializing in international security at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. “It’s a demonstration of Japan’s will to maintain a balance of power.”

Mr. Michishita called it “very significant” that Japan was practicing its anti-submarine warfare capability because China operates nuclear-powered submarines that can fire ballistic missiles.

The exercise followed operations in the region by British and French forces and repeated moves by the U.S. Navy to reinforce freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

By visiting Vietnam, the Japanese submarine also highlighted the cooperation that the U.S. and its allies have been building with Hanoi, which contests China’s claims to some South China Sea territory.