Japan has handed over its warship 'Izumo' to its Maritime Self Defense Force on Wednesday.
The helicopter carrier is as big as the Imperial Navy aircraft carriers, Reuters reported on Wednesday.The Izumo with a crew of 470 sailors is an example how Japan is expanding the capability of its military to operate overseas.
The 248 meter (813 feet) long Izumo resembles US Marine Corp amphibious assault carriers in size and design but it is designated as a helicopter destroyer, a label that allows Japan to keep within the bounds of a constitutional ban on owning the means to wage war. Aircraft carriers, because of their ability to project force, are considered offensive weapons.
The Izumo enters service as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks lawmaker approval to loosen the restraints of Japan's pacifist post-war constitution.
"The vessel can serve in a wide range of roles including peace keeping operations, international disaster relief and aid," Gen Nakatani, Japan's Minister of Defense said after a handover ceremony at the Japan United Marine shipyard in Yokohama.
"It also helps improve our ability to combat submarines,” he added.
The Izumo-class helicopter destroyer is a type of new helicopter carrier class being constructed for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
The ships of this class will be the largest surface combatants of the JMSDF, taking over the mantle currently held by the Hyūga-class helicopter destroyers.
This ship could possibly carry up to 28 aircraft. For other operations, 400 troops and 50 3.5 ton trucks (or equivalent equipment) can also be carried. The flight deck has 5 helicopter landing spots that allow simultaneous landings or take-offs. The ship is equipped with 2 Phalanx CIWS and 2 SeaRAM for its defense.