Monday, October 29, 2012

"Fleet Review" - 60th Anniversary of the JMSDF for RTL

Sagami Bay - Pacific Ocean

In the Pacific Ocean on board Japanese Navy destroyer JS Yudachi DD 103 for the first visit on the occasion of this 60th anniversary of the JMSDF with the Prime Minister Noda and 45 ships of the Navy and 48 helicopters and planes for a training and a presentation of the Fleet.

The Fleet Review is the theme of my news "reportage" in RTL Midi Week End October 28th 2012 13:00 in the RTL Monde program anchored by Daniel Férin. Today the news context is with the territorial crisis between Japan and China on the "SENKAKU DIAOYU" islets off Okinawa. I embark on the modern vessel and we discover the whole JMSDF forces and the complex territorial situation, including the other territorial issues with South Korea ("TAKESHIMA DOKDO LIANCOURT Rocks" and Russia (Northern TERRITORIES off Hokkaido).

Reportage on the JS Yudachi - Pacific Ocean

I was piloted by Capitaine de Vaisseau Inoue, himself a SH-60 helicopter pilot, I also interviewed a French Capitaine de Vaisseau Duhomez Military Attache at the French embassy, impressed by the modernism of the Japanese fleet and I especially had the great luck to see again the Rear-Admiral Umi-O Otsuka, Director General for Command Control and Intelligence who embarked the Yudachi and who describes -this is a news exclusive- the geostrategic situation for RTL MONDE's audience about the current naval issue between Japan and China, he analyses the Senkaku Diaoyu and the Fleet Review 2012 as an "exercise of the Navy to be seen as a deterrence for the protection of the Japanese territory and of the East Asia seas, waters to be shared, he said, by neighbouring nations for the prosperity of this region, if this principle is not violated..." The comment and "message"is eloquent enough and explains the current Japanese policy which is to avoid all violence, but warn that the answer might be stern. Recently Chinese demonstration as seen these last month against Japanese firms, citizens and diplomats in China shocked Japanese and their firms. Now I guess that the riposte would be very sharp and fast from Japan and US in case of contingency.

The JMSDF has over 100 war ships and on this day nearly half of the Fleet was on seas. Very impressive and fearful forces. On this day it was such a rain, the day started at 04:30 am, from Yokosuka naval basis, an hour and a half transportation from Tokyo. The day was cool and grey, what a comparison with the usual sunny days of Autumn season in Japan. We had to wait quite a long time as the VIPs, Navy veterans and  special visitors were assigned to their respective vessel.

I was lucky to meet Paul Steinmetz the ambassador of Luxembourg and also met on this occasion several genuine experts of defence, intelligence, electronics, naval combat, and technologies of military equipment. The JS Yudachi is the 3rd ship of the Murasame class multipurpose destroyer adapted to quick reaction for Anti-Air, Anti Surface, and Anti-Submarine warfare and owns the most advanced combat systems. One particularity of this ship is the extensive automation of the combat systems and the main propulsion system.

We witnessed an hour and a half of military exercises. Ships navigating, naval battles and interception was mostly interesting as I saw a patrol boat simulating an attack on an other ship, developing machine guns, missiles launch (decoys no military charge) smoke and the speed (42 Kt) of the patrol boat. Then we saw the huge Hyuga Helicopter carrier, (looks really like a carrier), submarine vanguard jumping out like a dolphin, and quite amazingly the Seaplanes flying at a very slow speed. Then came the Hovercrafts (the same used by the JMSDF to assist the Tohoku and Fukushima population since March 11 the earthquake and tsunami). 45 war ships navigating in formation is a very exceptional show. I was amazed we were given all of this by the Japanese ministry of Defence with some special Officers assigned to answer all our questions. One problem only: the rain made our work especially difficult, but for the Navy, it was "business as usual." Impression is that the JMSDF is powerful, and already practices missions in the oceans and seas around Japan, with the UN or in international forces in the anti piracy combat, protecting sea lanes convoys (they are good at it), refuelling allies in ocean (Gulf and Indian ocean).

Now what is to happen if the Japan Self Defense Forces have to enter into a conflict, if the territorial issue degenerates into a more severe situation? Already the Japan Coast Guard are on zone near the Senkaku Diaoyu islets. The JCG are tough forces. Many think the JMSDF are capable of a powerful and precise combat. We know how the Japanese Samurais devote their time to training and improving their combat ability. Time will say. One thing is pretty sure is that we all doubt Chinese navy has the same level of transparency to show and invite foreign media on their boats. China invites only friendly reporting...

The ship I embarked on the Fleet Review is the Destroyer JS Yudachi (Yudachi means the Rain in a Summer Evening):

What: 60th Anniversary Japanese Fleet, 1st invitation to journalists with the Prime Minister visit.
Where: Sagami Bay - Pacific Ocean
Who: JMSDF, Prime Minister of Japan, Observers, Media JP and Int'l, I French journalist on Destroyer Yudachi.
Forces: 45 Vessels (Ships, Helicopters Carrier, Submarines, Hovercrafts, ) & 48 Planes and Helicopters.
JS Yudachi: 151 m long. Displacement: 4,400 T. Beam: 17.4m. Height: 47m. Speed 30 Kt (55 km/h)
On board Helicopter:  SH-60K, Speed: 160 Kt.
Quick reaction to anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine warfare.
Particularities: extensive automation of the combat systems and main propulsion.
Staff: 150 personal.

I am always thankful to the RTL headquarters at Bayard office, Paris who realises the editing and anchoring with such professionalism and symbiosis of an excellent reporting chemistry. In French language.

- The report was aired In "RTL MONDE" 28th October 2012 - JP (news) 13:00.

- Voice Report Direct link:

- Here also is a brief VDO of my Fleet Review report: