Thursday, October 27, 2005

Japan Really is Worried

I've long worried what we'd do about basing an aircraft carrier in the Western Pacific when the Kitty Hawk--our last conventionally powered aircraft carrier--reaches the end of its service life. Based in Japan, it avoided the sensitive issue of basing a nuclear-powered carrier in Japan--the only country to be nuked. By us. Sorry to be blunt, but that's the way it is. I value Japan as our friend and ally today, but we have an unpleasant history from sixty years or so ago.

So with this in mind, this news is rather impressive:

The U.S. Navy announced today that one of its nine Nimitz-class aircraft carriers will replace the USS Kitty Hawk as the forward deployed carrier in the Western Pacific, and will arrive in Yokosuka, Japan in 2008.

We will base a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Japan. The release notes that nuclear-powered ships have visited Japanese ports 1,200 times since 1964, but we are still talking about a carrier here.

All I can say is that the Japanese must really be worried about threats in the region to agree to a nuclear-powered American carrier based in their country.

They're right, of course. But I never fail to appreciate the practical acceptance of simple reality. This can often be a rare quality.

So thanks Japan. This is what an alliance means. Hey France, take some friggin' notes.

UPDATE: While the Japanese government is supportive, some locals are not:

Basing a U.S. nuclear-powered warship in Japanese waters for the first time will boost stability in East Asia, Japan's government said Friday, hailing an agreement even as it drew protests from the community that will host the aircraft carrier.

The Chinese will like it less since it puts a more capable warship closer to them. Oh well. Can't please everyone, so why try.