Nuclear-powered carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrives in Japan via The Philippine Star

YOKOSUKA — The American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan docked at its new home in Japan’s Yokosuka naval port yesterday 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 received a warm welcome from Japanese officials because of its role in disaster relief following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in northern Japan.

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

The Ronald Reagan, carrying 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. The George Washington, which arrived in 2008, left in May for a multiyear overhaul in the US

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

During its relief work four years ago, the Ronald Reagan ferried food and water to the city of Sendai in disaster-hit northern Japan. About 80 sailors on that mission have sued the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, saying it lied about the levels of radiation in the area.

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