Japan navy unveils big warship on Hiroshima atomic bombing anniversary

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's new helicopter destroyer DDH183 Izumo is seen before its launching ceremony in Yokohama, south of Tokyo August 6, 2013. The 19,500-tonne, 248-metres long helicopter destroyer, the largest surface combatant of the Japanese navy, is able to carry seven shipborne helicopters and two rescue/transport helicopters. Photo - Toru Hanai/Reuters

Tokyo: Japan unveiled its biggest warship since World War II on Tuesday, a $1.2 billion helicopter carrier aimed at defending territorial claims, drawing criticism from regional rival China which accused its neighbour of "constant" military expansion.

The ceremony to showcase the 248-metre vessel came as Shinzo Abe's conservative government, which took office last December, considers ditching the nation's pacifist constitution and beefing up the military.

Japan plans to use the helicopter carrier, named Izumo and expected to go into service in 2015, to defend territorial claims following maritime skirmishes with China, which has demonstrated its own military ambitions in recent years.

"We express our concern at Japan's constant expansion of its military equipment. This trend is worthy of high vigilance by Japan's Asian neighbours and the international community," China's defence ministry told AFP.

"Japan should learn from history, adhere to its policy of self-defence and abide by its promise of taking the road of peaceful development."

The unveiling ceremony took place on the 68th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima -- a date clash which Tokyo said was coincidental.

The Japanese-built carrier can accommodate nine helicopters and is expected to play a major role in disaster and rescue missions, as well as defending sea lanes and sovereignty claims, according to the defence ministry.

The navy's biggest vessels currently are a pair of smaller helicopter carriers. 

Less than two weeks ago, the Chinese coastguard entered waters disputed with Japan for the first time, upping the ante in a festering row over ownership of the Senkaku islands, which Beijing also claims and calls the Diaoyus.

The rocky islands are located in rich fishing grounds in the East China Sea and are believed to harbour vast natural resources below their seabed.

The incursion came as Japan's defence ministry recommended establishing amphibious units and acquiring surveillance drones, similar to the US Marines, to protect its claim on outlying islands. Tokyo is also locked in a separate territorial dispute with Seoul.

Japan's well-funded and well-equipped military is referred to as the Self-Defence Forces, and is barred from taking aggressive action. Any move to beef up the military would require constitutional change.

A possible overhaul of the constitution imposed on Japan by the United States and its allies after WWII has stirred strong emotions among Japan's neighbours.

They have long maintained that Tokyo has never come to terms with its militaristic past, including the brutal 1910-1945 occupation of the Korean peninsula.

The ceremony in Yokohama, attended by Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, was held as tens of thousands gathered for remembrance ceremonies in Hiroshima to mark the 68th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the western Japanese city.

Tokyo said the jarring timing was coincidental and that Tuesday had been chosen because of favourable ocean tides and an auspicious date.

Last year, China commissioned its first aircraft carrier as part of a military build-up that has alarmed its own regional neighbours as Washington ramps up a focus on Asia.

The country's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, went into service in September in a symbolic milestone for China's increasingly muscular military.

However, the vessel still requires a carrier group including destroyers, frigates and submarines while fighter jets need more training to be operational, according to navy officials.

China has also generated concern with double-digit rises in its annual defence budget -- set at 10.7 percent for 2013 -- with experts saying their actual military spending is substantially higher than the publicised totals.


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with rogue nations like the u.s. and israel attacking whoever they choose, whenever they want, any nation, japan and germany included, who do not prepare an adequate defense is almost asking for a future attack.

The Communist Chinese have killed more Chinese than the Imperial Japanese. Pot calling the kettle black.

good for them!....Its about time

Japan killed 15 million people worldwide in the 30s and 40s...most of the victims were Chinese. The Japanese need to stop the "were a victim" crap. Payback hurts.

The new carrier can carry and operate the new naval version of the Joint Strike Fighter you heard it here first....

Japan has the right to defend themselves against China.

Neat looking ship, but of limited utility - Half the size of American Wasp class with no well deck for amphip operations; and 1/4 the size of US Nimitz class supercarrier. This ship cannot be used for power projection roles - it is indeed a "helicopter carrier" and nothing more.

long live the Emperor! bansai!!!

Japan is the U.S. best Asian ally. They should control the western Pacific sea lanes to provide a balance of power against mainland rivals. Historically similiar to the Brits against France or Germany. BANZAI!

Yamato Damashii!

I thought we didnt allow these folks to army themselves because last time they did it went to their heads and they raped and murdered six million innocent people and tried to take over the entire Pacific Rim? If the Chinese beat the snot out of the Japanese itll be justice for what these Japanese did during the invasion of China. I hope we Americans are smart enough to stand back and not get involved. Remember: China was our ally and the Japanese betrayed our trust and attacked us too while their ambassador sat at the White House with our President.

Good for Japan. Only shame is that it isnt a carrier with real launch and landing capabilities. Their constitutional prohibitions served a useful purpose for decades but are rather antiquated considering the aggression from China and the likelihood the US will not extend the security umbrella indefinitely. Fare thee well, Nihonjin. Ganbatte kudasai.

Re:"...The unveiling ceremony took place on the 68th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima a date clash which Tokyo said was coincidental..."

Its been 70-odd years since Japan’s ‘Ronald Teflon Reagan-like’ militarism brought the entire Japanese population to It’s knees, post the re-initiation of WW-2 into the 1St. Nuclear War;

...They HAVNT learned much, have they?

Re: "...You are a little sad that Reagan forced the Soviet Communists to fold their criminal enterprise..." {Derek}

Ronald ‘Teflon’ Reagan got that nic-name because his entire administration was one (collective), R.I.C.O. Felony after another!
Your comment reminded me of R. ‘Teflon’ Reagans insistence on running Abel-Archer-83, a simulation of what to expect, (logistically & communications wise), in the final 2 weeks before a, (U.S. / N.A.T.O.), ‘first strike…

It would have to be a, (simulated) ‘first strike’, because there isn’t a ‘final two weeks prior to retaliating’, after a frist strike!

It is alleged that the Russians almost decided on a pre-emptive (thermonuclear) strike, because they were afraid the Abel -Archer ’83 exercise wasn’t (merely) an ‘exercise’!
Such a Russian Retaliation might have been considered analogous to G.W. Bush’s, (equally imbecilic), rationale for the corporate profiteering jihad, aka, ‘Iraq, Etc.’!

That is…
Ronald ‘prolife’ Reagan, with hundreds of thousands of dead South Americans on his soul via Iran-contra & the various (closeted) death-squads…almost caused a Thermonuclear War;
…All by his lonesome!

I’m ignoring the later episode where he joked into a microphone about, “Outlawing the Soviet Union. We begin bombing in 5 minutes”;
No one would give ME a 2nd look if I said that because I DON’T have access to nuclear weapons…
Since the president does…
Joking about it is about as unprofessional / inappropriate / grossly immoral / potentially dangerous as joking about plane hijackings in the T.S.A. line at an airport!

You are a little sad that Reagan forced the Soviet Communists to fold their criminal enterprise.

Remember Pearl Harbor? The same sneaky Japanese.