VADM Yoji Koda, Maritime Self-Defense Force, 2006

VADM Yoji Koda, Maritime Self-Defense Force, 2006. (Source: Michael D. Kennedy)

In Spring 2010, former Vice-Admiral Yoji Koda of the Maritime Self-Defense Force wrote an article for the US Naval War College Review on the rise of the Republic of Korea Navy (The Emerging Republic of Korea Navy: A Japanese Perspective). The whole article makes for an interesting read, but I’ve highlighted the main bilateral-oriented conclusion below – that there are a lot more similarities between the two navies than differences, and that the virtual alliance would benefit from formalization.

Nonetheless—and fully recognizing the challenges and issues that exist—there are many areas in which the capable Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the emerging Republic of Korea Navy can cooperate in the future.With regard to the strategic viewpoints of the two navies, the most important factor for both the JMSDF and ROKN to understand is that a contingency on the Korean Peninsula could affect Japan and that a contingency in Japan could affect South Korea. The United States, having independent alliances with each country, will respond to any contingency involving either state. In such a case, it will expect the JMSDF and ROKN to cooperate and coordinate between themselves, fully respecting the present situation, current capabilities, and existing limitations and constraints of both navies. Conversely, inadequate cooperation will not only help the adversary in a specific contingency but also serve a third party in the region. In the worst case it would greatly damage the national interests of both nations, as well as those of the United States.

Without question, the more the ROKN develops as a blue-water navy, the more conscious it will become of the Japanese archipelago, ranging from the southernmost Yonaguni Island, immediately east of Taiwan, to Hokkaido and the northern territorial islands of Japan. If so, the geography and geopolitics of the region would make it natural for the South Korean navy to strengthen its relationship with the JMSDF. The converse is true for the JMSDF as well. The two nations, both formidable, regional maritime powers, are destined to cooperate, in the interest of their common values.

Koda retired from service in 2008 after a year as the service’s Commander-in-Chief (2007-8) and two years as Commander of the MSDF’s Sasebo District (2005-7).

Check out the full article (PDF), here.

[via Tom Ricks, at Foreign Policy's The Best Defense]

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch