Thesun rises again: Japan shows off the awesome might of its re-emerging navalpower with new colossal helicopter carrier - its biggest warship since WWII
Japan'snavy today took delivery of its biggest warship since the Second World War asit continues expanding its military capability in an attempt to shed itspost-war pacifism.
Todaythe Izumo, a helicopter carrier as big as the Imperial Navy aircraft carriersthat battled the United States in the Pacific, was delivered to the navy in acrowning achievement for the nation's military forces.
With acrew of 470 sailors, it is a highly visible example of how Japan is expandingthe capability of its military to operate overseas as Prime Minister Shinzo Abeseeks lawmaker approval to loosen the restraints of Japan's pacifist post-warconstitution.
The 248metre (813ft)long warship resembles U.S. Marine Corp amphibious assault carriers in size anddesign but it is designated as a helicopter destroyer - a label that allowsJapan to keep within the bounds of a constitutional ban on owning the means towage war.
Aircraftcarriers, because of their ability to project force, are considered offensiveweapons.
General Nakatani, Japan's Minister of Defence, told media at the handoverceremony in Yokohama: 'The vessel can serve in a wide range of roles includingpeace keeping operations, international disaster relief and aid. It also helpsimprove our ability to combat submarines.'
Japanis also adding longer-range patrol aircraft and military cargo planes to itsdefence capability, and buying Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, amphibiousassault vehicles and Boeing's Osprey troop carrier,which can operate from the Izumo.
PresidentAbe's attempts to ease Japan's pacifist constitution and its build up indefence capabilities is unnerving neighbour China.
TheIzumo does not have a catapult necessary to launch fixed-wing fighters, but aplanned vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) variant of the F-35 could fly fromthe Izumo's flight deck.