To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) , about 30 warships from 20 countries will take part in the International Maritime Review on 15 May. They will also take part in the Western Pacific Naval Symposium Multilateral Sea Exercise before coming here.
It is our honour that big countries such as U.S., China and Russia are joining for the Review.
However, one country on the list stood out. Japan.
Credit: Japan Times
According to Japan Times, Japan planned to dispatch its largest warship, the Izumo helicopter carrier, on a three-month tour through the South China Sea. It will also train with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea. Then, it will make stop in Singapore.
We are not sure if it’ll be coming for the Maritime Review but if it did, then there’s some sensitivity involved.
We all know that China is the biggest claimant of the South China Sea and for the Izumo to train with the U.S. at this disputed area, it’s clear what kinds of signals Japan is trying to send to the Chinese.
If this ship decides to come to Singapore for the Review, how the Chinese will think about it?
Singapore is caught in the middle, again.
Let us not forget that this is all taking place while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to change the country’s Pacifist Constitution to allow Japan to have armed forces that suit modern security concerns.
China may not openly protest Singapore for inviting the Japanese to the Review but one can’t be sure how the PRC media will report on the event.
Even if the Chinese keep quiet, I’m not sure if local older Chinese Singaporeans will be unhappy about it. Just think of the naming of the Syonan Gallery. It made a group of elderly Chinese Singaporeans really upset and the government had to eventually acknowledge their unhappiness and change the name of the gallery to Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies.
I’m not sure if the Japanese warship will be heavily featured. I hope not.
If it did, then a 50th Anniversary celebration will leave a bad taste in people’s mouths and that will go against what Singapore Navy wanted to achieve in the first place.
We shall just wait and see what happens on 15th May…