|Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
(JMSDF) 海上自衛隊 (Kaijō Jieitai)
|Role||Defend Japanese territorial waters and shipping|
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (海上自衛隊, Kaijō Jieitai), or JMSDF, is the naval branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, tasked with the naval defense of Japan. It was formed following the dissolution of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) after World War II. The JMSDF is the second largest navy in Asia (after People's Liberation Army Navy) with a very large fleet of significant blue-water operating capabilities. Its main tasks are to maintain control of the nation's sea lanes and to patrol territorial waters. It has also stepped up its participation in UN-led peacekeeping operations (PKOs) and Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIOs).
Main article: Naval history of Japan
Japan has a long history of naval interaction with the Asian continent, involving transportation of troops, starting at least with the beginning of the Kofun period in the 3rd century. Following the attempts at Mongol invasions of Japan by Kubilai Khan in 1274 and 1281, Japanese wakō became very active in plundering the coast of the Chinese Empire.
Japan undertook major naval building efforts in the 16th century, during the Warring States period, when feudal rulers vying for supremacy built vast coastal navies of several hundred ships. Around that time, Japan may have developed one of the world's first ironclad warships, when Oda Nobunaga (a Japanese daimyo) had six iron-covered Oatakebune made in 1576.
Japan built her first large ocean-going warships in the beginning of the 17th century, following contact with European countries during the Nanban trade period. In 1613, the Daimyo of Sendai, in agreement with the Tokugawa Bakufu, built the Date Maru. This 500 ton galleon-type ship transported the Japanese embassy of Hasekura Tsunenaga to the Americas and Europe. From 1604 onwards, about 350 Red seal ships, usually armed and incorporating European technology, were also commissioned by the Bakufu, mainly for Southeast Asian trade.