Japan has just launched the Izumo, its newest helicopter carrier and the first of the ultra-modern Izumo-class, and also the largest Japanese warship since WWII – all much to the irritation of the Chinese navy, the proud owner of a refurbished hulk it rescued from a Ukrainian scrapyard under the pretext it would be used as a casino.
At 248m long and with a displacement of 19,500 tons, and with a crew complement of 970 and carrying up to 14 helicopters, the Izumo is the JMSDF’s largest ever vessel, exceeding its Hyuuga-class predecessor in size by some 6,000 tons.
Aside from a variety of close-in weapon systems, the ship’s primary armament is its flight deck and accompanying anti-submarine helicopters, but there are strong suspicions that the class has been designed with the V-22 Osprey and F-35 Lightning II in mind, as well as the prospect of significant capability increases.
Its unveiling was presided over by Rozen Aso himself, although the ship is not to enter service until March of 2015.
As might be expected of a nation constitutionally forbidden from maintaining military forces but which nonetheless has the world’s 4th largest navy, officially the vessel is strictly referred to as an “Izumo-class escort vessel” (the term “destroyer” not being used by the JMSDF), and even more right-wing examples of Japanese media insist its primary mission is “refuelling, patrol and disaster relief operations.”
Ironically enough, its name derives from that of an armoured cruiser sunk in port in 1945 by American carrier planes, although with its usual love for pointless euphemism Japan’s navy refuses to use the original warlike kanji and instead calls it by the far less belligerent hiragana equivalent.
Online the launch has been greeted with no small enthusiasm:
“It’s just an escort vessel, however you look at it!”
“Just an escort vessel.”
“Just an ordinary escort vessel.”
“What a nice escort vessel they’ve made there. We’ll be sure to escort the Senkaku isles, Takeshima, Taiwan and the Philippines with it!”
“I can’t believe they let Aso do it so soon after his Nazi remarks.”
“They say they are making an aircraft carrier for disaster relief operations… did they get permission from China and Korea then? However you look at it this ship is probably not for disaster relief, so I really hope they are not wasting our taxes on something useless like that.”
“Are you really retarded enough to think that?”
“Why on earth would they need to get permission? Did China ask us for permission before launching its own carrier?”
“It is just a helicopter carrier, not an aircraft carrier, the Chinese didn’t ask the Russians before they swindled their carrier off them, and I bet you don’t pay any taxes in the first place!”
“ASW is an urgent matter if we are to get those ‘unknown nationality’ Chinese submarines to stop swaggering through Japanese waters all the time.”
“Hopefully they will develop a nuclear carrier and indigenous carrier aircraft next.”
“America won’t like us making anything ourselves.”
“We are just a vassal to them. Anything which makes us militarily independent of them goes against their interests, we are just supposed to buy whatever they allow us and support their military industrial complex.”
“Japan is the shield, America the spear. Japan is being made to specialise in ASW. The DDH is just for joint operations with the US. But with all these DDHs they plan, just how many subs do they expect to have to sink?”
“Thank god we got those leftist traitors out of our government so this could be built!”
“Note to crazed net rightists: it was the DPJ, not the LDP, who ordered this ship.”
“Hurry up and make nuclear carriers and submarines!”
“This one is just too small for carrier operations, maybe they can manage the F-35B though.”
“Expect it to be kitted out with drones and railguns instead.”
“Japanese: It’s been a while since we had a carrier!
JMSDF: No no, a DDH is not a carrier.
Japanese: It looks like a carrier though, doesn’t it?
JMSDF: No, it’s quite different from a carrier!”
“Just call it a carrier and be done with it.”
“With 8 AEGIS vessels planned we’ll have the world’s second largest fleet of them. Because we have such top class submarines too!”
“I’d be happier if it didn’t feel as if all the net-rightists just got a new toy.”
“I suppose they couldn’t call it Nagato out of concern for the neighbours.”
“This ship isn’t yet worthy of the name, wait for the railgun-equipped DDB!”
“Pretty weak that the JMSDF’s flagship is a piddling little destroyer.”
“We can reduce China’s fleet to ashes with this ship!”
“Abe-chan is in for the next few years! I can’t wait to see the 26DDH and 28DDH!”