Japan is set to unveil the country’s biggest surface combatant warship since World War II on Tuesday, following the commemoration of the 68th anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing. This is also amidst growing naval tensions with China centered on a territorial dispute over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Japan’s Self Defense Forces will be holding a ceremony in the port city of Yokohama to formally launch the new 248-meter (810-feet) helicopter carrier, known as of now only by its numerical designation 22DDH, which will be the centerpiece of Japan’s naval forces. The vessel’s name will be announced at the ceremony.
The 22DDH project was announced several years ago to serve as an upgrade to the current largest ships in the Japanese maritime force, the Hyuga class helicopter carriers – designated as 16DDH and 18DDH – which includes the Hyūga (lead vessel of the class) and the Ise. The unveiling ceremony comes as Japan’s government, controlled by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), mulls a possible re-writing of Japan’s pacifist Constitution. The carrier is said to be able to accommodate nine helicopters and is set to play a major role in disaster and rescue missions, as well as defending Japan’s sea lanes and maritime territory, this according to a statement from Japan’s Ministry of Defense. Japan’s SDF is prohibited by constitution to take aggressive action, and as such are restricted to defensive measures only. This has become the basis of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to re-write the Constitution. Abe has recently made known his plans to beef up the military and convert the forces into a fully capable military force.
China has also recently commissioned its first aircraft carrier, part of a military build-up that has caused concern among the Asian giant’s smaller regional neighbors. The Liaoning went into service in September, a milestone for China’s navy, but sources say that the vessel still requires a carrier escort group made up of destroyers, frigates and submarines. The fighter jets stationed on the carrier also seem to need more training to be operational, according to its own navy officials.
[via GMA News]