Fri, Oct 02, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier arrives in Japan

AP, YOKOSUKA, Japan

Family members of the crew of the USS ‘Ronald Reagan’ wave upon the aircraft carrier’s arrival at the US Navy’s Yokosuka base in Yokosuka, Japan, yesterday.

Photo: AP

The US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan yesterday docked at its new home in Japan’s Yokosuka naval port just as Tokyo tries to deepen defense ties with the US under new security laws that expand the role of Japan’s military.

The warship’s arrival received a warm welcome from Japanese officials because of its role in disaster relief after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster as part of the US government’s tomodachi, or “friends,” project.

At a welcoming ceremony, US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said the arrival and the welcome the vessel received are “visible symbols of our shared commitment to one another and regional stability.”

However, outside the port, a small group of citizens protested the aircraft carrier’s deployment as a move to step up Japan’s military cooperation with the US.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government enacted new laws that would allow the country’s troops to also defend their allies, mainly the US, overseas, in a chaotic parliamentary session last month disrupted by opposition lawmakers’ vote-delaying attempts.

Abe says Japan needs the laws to increase its deterrence capabilities amid China’s growing assertiveness, North Korea’s missile and nuclear ambitions and other security concerns.

However, many Japanese worry the new laws increase the risk of Japan being embroiled in US-led wars.

The carrier, which came with about 5,000 crewmembers, replaces the USS George Washington, which was the first US nuclear-powered warship based in Japan, where atomic weapons are a sensitive issue.

Three destroyers are set to be deployed later this year to Yokosuka, near Tokyo, bringing the number of Yokosuka-based US warships to 14, the largest since Japan’s World War II defeat in 1945, Kyodo News reported.

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