Japan’s latest warship unveiling at Yokohama on 6 August has raised eyebrows and tensions in the Asia Pacific region. The new ship, Izumo (DDH-183), is not only the largest to be built since World War II but its classification as a ‘helicopter destroyer’, when it resembles an aircraft carrier, has led to accusations of military expansion from Beijing.

With a 248m flight deck, Izumo will have seven landing spots and hangar space for seven more SH-60 Seahawk helicopters when she enters service in March 2015. The JMSDF argues that Izumo and the smaller Hyuga class ‘helicopter destroyers’ lack the offensive capability of conventional aircraft carriers, a definition that has allowed them to be built as defensive military assets in line with the country’s peace constitution.

Chinese scorn, at a time of ongoing territorial disputes in the region, is no doubt fuelled by the provocative re-use of the name, which was previously used by the Japanese flagship that led an invasion of China in the 1930s.

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