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Deployment of Aegis cruiser hailed as “Historic day” but others point to increased risk

  • 2015-06-22 15:00:00
  • , Kanagawa Shimbun
  • Translation

(Kanagawa Shimbun: June 19, 2015 – p.25)

 

 The U.S. Navy’s Aegis cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) was newly deployed to the U.S. Navy Yokosuka Base (Yokosuka City) on June 18. While the captain of the cruiser described the arrival as “a historic day,” citizens’ groups expressed concern that the arrival “will increase the danger.” Feelings are complicated in this base-hosting community.

 

 “Welcome,” said Capt. Curt A. Renshaw, inviting a group of reporters to a tour on the cruiser, not showing any signs of fatigue after the long voyage.

 

 Beginning with the combat information center with its numerous monitors, the captain showed reporters the pilothouse, the vertical launching system, and the wardroom, where fruit and coffee were served to guests. It was unprecedented hospitality. The captain proudly said: “This cruiser is one of the most capable warships in the U.S. Navy. It will be very beneficial to the defense of Japan.” The most advanced Aegis combat system has tremendously enhanced the speed of information-processing, reportedly improving air defense and anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare.

 

 In the ongoing debate of the security legislation in the Diet, the Abe administration bears in mind the expansion of the range of activities by the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF). With knowledge of this ongoing debate, the captain expressed hope for further cooperation by saying that the U.S. Navy and MSDF “will strengthen training and ties.” As for two more Aegis cruisers that will additionally deploy to the Yokosuka Base in summer of 2017, the skipper said, “The addition of new capabilities is beneficial to Yokosuka.”

 

 On the contrary, seven members of the citizen’s group “Yokosuka Peace Fleet,” which opposes the additional deployment, conducted surveillance from the ocean.

 

 The members left in a boat from Fukaura Bay around 11:00 a.m. after the cruiser moored. They conducted surveillance by taking photos of the cruiser from waters near Yokosuka Base. Taira Ichikawa (68) who was on the boat pointed out, “As a result of the intensification of the arms race with China, tensions have risen, which may lead to increasing the danger of military conflict in future.” He voiced concern, saying, “If the U.S. military base is targeted, the danger of missiles striking our city will increase.”

 

 In the morning of the same day in front of the Yokosuka-Chuo Station of the Keikyu Line, members of a citizen’s group named “The Advisory Council for Yokosuka in the 21st Century” voiced their protest: “Can the military buildup at the Yokosuka Base really become deterrence?” asked one of them. “The military buildup will give an enemy a pretext for strengthening its military,” said another protester. “The logic that a military buildup will protect the peace will turn out to be a pie in the sky.”

 

 Yokosuka City Mayor Yuto Yoshida issued a comment: “I will continually ask the Japanese government for adequate information sharing, and ask the U.S. side to improve the working conditions of base employees and the implementation of indoctrination and education for U.S. service members, civilians, and family members.”

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