In its biggest show of naval force since World War II, Japan is planning to send its largest warship, JS Izumo on a 3-month tour through the South China Sea, starting from May 2017.
The main aim is to test the capability of the warship by sending it out on an extended mission.
• The warship, which was commissioned two years ago, is an Izumo helicopter carrier.
• It will be stopping over in Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka before joining the Indian and US naval vessels for a joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean in July 2017.
• The carrier will return to Japan by August 2017.
According to sources, Japan is looking to invite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to visit the carrier when it reaches the Subic Bay, about 100 km west of Manila, the capital of Philippines.
The water of the South China Sea is disputed with China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei all claiming parts of it. While China claims almost all of the disputed water, the other countries claim parts that have rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits and through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes each year.
Though Japan does not have any claim to the waters of the South China Sea, it does have a separate maritime dispute with China in the East China Sea.
Besides this, Japan’s move comes at a time when China’s growing military presence in the sea has fuelled concern in both Japan and the West.
About JS Izumo
• Based in Yokosuka, near to Tokyo, the warship’s primary mission is anti-submarine warfare.
• The 249m long carrier is as large as Japan’s World War II-era carriers and can operate up to 9 helicopters.
• While it resembles the assault carriers used by US Marines, it lacks their well deck for launching and landing craft and other vessels.
• The carrier has been designated as a destroyer.