Replacing the various types of Cruiser prior to WW1 (Protected, Scout, Torpedo) Light Cruisers were initially a general purpose vessel with a heavier gunload than Destroyers. They officially become defined during the 1930 London Naval Treaty as ships below 10k tonnage and no larger than 6" guns.
Japan took less interest in the concept than other nations, with the bulk of it's light cruiser force being quite obsolete by the time of WW2. The Mogami class were very advanced for their time, but were treaty breaking and swiftly upgunned to Heavy Cruisers. Japan's final class was the Agano, however they were undergunned and too late and few to contribute much to the war effort.
While the US had also focused more on Heavy Cruisers, Britain had created several classes of Light Cruisers post WW1, however the Mogami class spurred both to action, with the US producing the Brooklyn and Cleveland classes and British three batches of the Town Class along with the Crown Colony ships.
Following WW2, and the advent of guided missiles the role of the Light/Heavy Cruiser began to disappear as the Missile Cruiser took over.
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