Japan’s new destroyer, which won’t go into full service till 2015, “has raised eyebrows across East Asia,” wrote Stefan Soesanto of the South China Morning Post.
Japan’s Izumo ‘helicopter destroyer‘ is a flat topped ship — without catapults for fighter jets — that has size greater than that of other fixed wing carriers, notably Britain’s HMS Invincible-class ships.
The ship is designed to carry several helicopters, can be fitted for vertical lift off F-35Bs, and it’s also worth mentioning that ships like the Izumo can be retrofitted for linear take-off fighter jets, should the need arise.
Japan’s careful language is meant to fit a constitutional ban on offensive military assets, since a destroyer can be defensive but an aircraft carrier is clearly offensive.
From South China Morning Post:
Maritime Self-Defence Force chief of staff Admiral Keiji Akahoshi stated in 2009 that the Hyuga-class falls outside the conventional definition of an aircraft carrier because it lacks a fair degree of offensive functions. This argumentation has been notably employed by the Japanese government to circumvent Article 9 of the peace constitution to portray its helicopter destroyers as purely defensive military assets.
Destroyer or not, the Hyuga-class warship certainly extends Japan’s projection of military power, and Chinese officials wasted no time speaking out about it.
“It is an aircraft carrier, and Japan just called it ‘a helicopter destroyer’ to downplay its aggressive nature,” Zhang said. Japan, defeated in World War II, is creating regional tensions by breaking the postwar order, he added.
“We are concerned over Japan’s constant expansion of its military equipment. Japan’s Asian neighbours and the international community need to be highly vigilant about this trend. Japan should learn from history, adhere to its policy of self-defence and abide by its promise to take the road of peaceful development.”
In naming the Izumo, Japan asked for this type of attention from China, and perhaps that was the purpose.
The Izumo was the name of the ship that began the invasion of China in 1937.
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