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DDH-183 Izumo 22DDH Class

The 248-meter- (814-ft.)long Izumo-class ships are as big as any of Japan's aircraft carriers in World War II. The navy's two large helicopter carriers, the Izumo and Kaga, will be modified to accommodate F-35B operations. The ships will need reinforced decks to withstand the heat blast from F-35 engines and could be fitted with ramps to aid short take-offs

Japan's government decided in December 2018 on the new National Defense Program Guidelines, under which Japan will introduce state-of-the-art F-35B stealth fighter jets that can take off from short runways on remote islands and aircraft carriers, and make vertical landings. It calls for refurbishing the destroyer Izumo to accommodate such jets. Japan does not call it an aircraft carrier to avoid criticism that such "offensive" platforms would violate country's pacifist constitution. Instead, the Izumos would be called a "multi-purpose operation destroyer".

The Izumo, Japan's largest scale destroyer, joined the US vessel off Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo on 01 May 2017. It left its base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo in the morning. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer began escorting a US supply ship along Japan's Pacific coast, on a mission under Japan's new national security legislation. Izumo would guard the US vessel as the ships travel to the coast off Shikoku Island before going their separate ways the next day.

Izumo was expected to continue on a long voyage to southeast Asia and elsewhere. The US supply ship would head to waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula, where it will refuel the US Aegis-equipped destroyers in the region. The US naval fleet is on guard against any North Korean moves in the Sea of Japan.

Japan's new security laws that came into force in March last year enable the country's Self-Defense Forces to guard US warships operating even in peacetime to defend Japan. It is the first time such duties have been undertaken. The Maritime Self-Defense Force took part in a joint drill with the USS Carl Vinson-led aircraft carrier strike group.

On 13 March 2017 Japan disclosed plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War II. Beginning in May 2017, the Izumo helicopter carrier would visit Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar joint naval exercise with Indian and US naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July 2017.

On 25 March 2015 Japan took delivery of the largest Japanese warship since World War II. It is officially designated a "helicopter destroyer", even though it is as big as the aircraft carriers Japan used during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese Defense Ministry does not plan to use the vessel for fighter aircraft. It says therefore the vessel is not considered to be an attack aircraft carrier, which the government says would be incompatible with its nonaggressive defense policy.

A ceremony was held at a pier in Yokohama City, near Tokyo, to mark the handover of the vessel from its manufacturer to the Maritime Self-Defense Force. "This vessel can serve in a wide range of roles, including peace keeping operations, and international disaster relief and aid," said Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani during a ceremony Wednesday welcoming the vessel at the Japan United Marine shipyard in Yokohama, about 45 minutes south of Tokyo. The Izumo will be housed at the Yokosuka Naval Base near Tokyo.

On August 6th, 1945, an atomic bomb destroyed the city of Hiroshima. On 06 August 2013, 68 years later to the day, Japan formally unveiled to the public the first of its 22DDH Class helicopter escort, the Izumo, which is larger than any of the aircraft carriers that Japan employed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The 22DDH Class helicopter destroyer is Japan's first aircraft carrier since the Great Pacific War. The designation 22DDH is short for helicopter destroyer project, Heisei Year 22. Heisei is the name of the reign of the current emperor. Each emperor's reign is named, i.e. Meiji, Showa, etc. Heisei 22 is the 22nd year of rule by Emperor Akihito. The 22 does not reference the displacement, and in any event Asian navies always disclose empty displacement instead of loaded or full displacement.

On 31 August 2009 it was reported that the JMOD FY2010 budget request included 116.6 billion Yen for a new 22DDH "helicopter destroyer" built to a design signficiantly larger than the 16DDH Hyuuga Class. After Yukio Hatoyama became prime minister in September 2009, new budget requests were submitted in October 2009 -- including 118.1 billion yen for the construction of a helicopter destroyer. The ship would eventually replace the destroyer Shirane, which was scheduled to be decommissioned in fiscal 2014. A request for the helicopter destroyer was first made for the fiscal 2010 budget when the Liberal Democratic Party was in control of government.

Japan's new, $1-billion helicopter destroyer Kaga entered service 21 March 2017. The 248-meter-long destroyer can reportedly carry up to 28 aircraft, including helicopters involved in searching for Chinese submarines amid the deepening row in the South China Sea. Maritime Self Defense Force commanders inaugurated the ship at the Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama near Tokyo. The Kaga was docked there next to its sister ship, the Izumo.

"China is attempting to make changes in the South China Sea with bases and through acts that exert pressure is altering the status quo, raising security concerns among the international community," Vice Minister of Defense Takayuki Kobayashi said at the ceremony. The Kaga, set to be based in the city of Kure, western Japan, can carry at least 14 helicopters, the Asahi Shimbun reported, adding that "patrol helicopters would mainly search for Chinese submarines.

Japan now boasted four helicopter carriers: the Kaga, the Izumo and two smaller Hyuga-class helicopter destroyers. The Kaga, whose construction costs totaled 115 billion yen ($1.1 billion), according to the Japanese military, and its sister ship the Izumo, which operated from Yokosuka near Tokyo, were Japan's two biggest warships since World War Two.

"Kaga" was also the name of a Japanese warship used in the invasion of China. The earlier "Kaga" was the main aircraft carrier of Japan's invasion of China during World War II. Many of the carrier-based aircraft that bombarded Chinese cities took off from the "Kaga". It also took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor. So "Kaga" was known as the "devil ship".

Chinese media noted that the new warships following the "devil ship" name inevitably leads to controversy. "Kaga" and "Izumo" are exactly the same, and Japan claime that they are helicopter frigates, but in fact they are "quasi-aircraft carrier."

China said 23 March 2017 that it was on high alert for Japan's true intentions as the Japanese helicopter-carrier destroyer Kaga went into service on Wednesday. "The situation in the South China Sea is stable through the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries. China and its neighbors will never allow Japan to make trouble," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying. In recent years, Japan has played up the so-called "China threat," as an excuse for expanding its military, Hua said.

For historical reasons, the international community and especially Japan's neighbors keep a close eye on Japan's military moves, she told a routine press briefing. "We have every reason to remain on high alert," she added. The original Kaga was sunk by U.S. military during World War II. Japan should learn the lessons of history, Hua said. "We hope the Kaga's reappearance is not resurgence of Japanese militarism," she said.

"China is attempting to make changes in the South China Sea with bases and through acts that exert pressure is altering the status quo, raising security concerns among the international community," Vice Minister of Defense Kobayashi said.

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Page last modified: 12-12-2019 19:09:00 ZULU