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Japan’s new submarine unveiled amid China’s assertiveness

A submarine in close quarters with an undersea fiber-optic communications cable. Photo: Policy Exchange. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

KOBE, Oct 14, 2020, Kyodo. Japan’s newest submarine was unveiled Wednesday at a shipyard in western Japan, as part of efforts to boost the country’s maritime security amid China’s growing assertiveness in the region, Kyodo News reported.

The 3,000-ton warship named the Taigei was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and is scheduled to go into service in March 2022, becoming the 22nd vessel in the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s submarine fleet.

Under its 2010 National Defense Program Guidelines, Tokyo set a goal of increasing the number of its submarines from 16 to 22 in light of increasing activities by Beijing in waters near Japan, especially around a group of Japan-administered islands claimed by China in the East China Sea.

The Taigei, meaning big whale in Japanese, measures 84 meters in length and 9.1 meters in width and cost around 76 billion yen ($720 million) to build, according to the MSDF.

The 70-crew member submarine has a stealth-like design and is equipped with lithium-ion batteries so that it can remain underwater longer than previous models, it also said.

Some 150 people, including Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and MSDF Chief of Staff Hiroshi Yamamura, attended a ceremony held at the major Japanese defense equipment maker’s Kobe Shipyard in Hyogo Prefecture.

Japan currently operates nine 2,750-ton Oyashio-class submarines and 11 2,950-ton Soryu-class warships, and is planning to introduce a 12th Soryu-class sub next year.

The Taigei will be the first in the new Taigei-class category following the Oyashio and Soryu.

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