Exclusive: Japan plans to send largest warship to South China Sea, sources say


FILE PHOTO: A helicopter lands on the Izumo, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s (JMSDF) helicopter carrier, at JMSDF Yokosuka base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan, December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo | TOKYO Mon Mar 13, 2017 | 1:18pm EDT

Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.

China claims almost all the disputed waters and its growing military presence has fueled concern in Japan and the West, with the United States holding regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.

The Izumo helicopter carrier, commissioned only two years ago, will make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar joint naval exercise with Indian and U.S. naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July.

It will return to Japan in August, the sources said.

“The aim is to test the capability of the Izumo by sending it out on an extended mission,” said one of the sources who have knowledge of the plan. “It will train with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea,” he added, asking not to be identified because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

A spokesman for Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force declined to comment.

Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the sea which has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits and through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes each year.

Japan does not have any claim to the waters, but has a separate maritime dispute with China in the East China Sea.

Japan wants to invite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has pushed ties with China in recent months as he has criticized the old alliance with the United States, to visit the Izumo when it visits Subic Bay, about 100 km (62 miles) west of Manila, another of the sources said.

Asked during a news conference about his view on the warship visit, Duterte said, without elaborating, “I have invited all of them.”

He added: “It is international passage, the South China Sea is not our territory, but it is part of our entitlement.”

On whether he would visit the warship at Subic Bay, Duterte said: “If I have time.”

Japan’s flag-flying operation comes as the United States under President Donald Trump appears to be taking a tougher line with China. Washington has criticized China’s construction of man-made islands and a build-up of military facilities that it worries could be used to restrict free movement.

Beijing in January said it had “irrefutable” sovereignty over the disputed islands after the White House vowed to defend “international territories”.

The 249 meter-long (816.93 ft) Izumo is as large as Japan’s World War Two-era carriers and can operate up to nine helicopters. It resembles the amphibious assault carriers used by U.S. Marines, but lacks their well deck for launching landing craft and other vessels.

Japan in recent years, particularly under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been stretching the limits of its post-war, pacifist constitution. It has designated the Izumo as a destroyer because the constitution forbids the acquisition of offensive weapons. The vessel, nonetheless, allows Japan to project military power well beyond its territory.

Based in Yokosuka, near to Tokyo, which is also home to the U.S. Seventh Fleet’s carrier, the Ronald Reagan, the Izumo’s primary mission is anti-submarine warfare.

(Additional reporting by Martin Petty in Manila; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “Exclusive: Japan plans to send largest warship to South China Sea, sources say”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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9 Comments on “Exclusive: Japan plans to send largest warship to South China Sea, sources say”

  1. Sentinel says:

    Oh, the Japanese wish to score a political point and public relations-wise against China?

    Beijing and the foreign affairs department and defence department officials should learn how to craft their words in public to make Japan look back too.

    State publicly that Beijing will be sending its heavily armed warships and warplanes to escort the Japanese helicopter carrier when it enters Chinese’ territory – the South China Sea. The Chinese Navy and Airforce will MAN-UP the Japanese boats to make sure they BEHAVE themselves during the passage.

    Make them look small publicly. If they think they can project a big gun, well, Beijing can project a bigger gun to their puny gun, with words to match it too.

    But, the question remains : when will the Chinese foreign affairs and defence ministries’ officials learn to weaponize words and playing to the gallery?

    Like

  2. Fre Okin says:

    Great opportunity for the Chinese to escort the Japanese flotilla. FON for everybody!
    The Izumo joining with US, Australian and other countries ships in Indian’s Malabar exercise. Indian aircraft carrier never ever leave her home port, even in previous Malabar exercise near Philippines. The bigger story here is useless Indian navy, useless aircraft carrier that dare not venture out of port.

    China should monitor closely Izumo and her escorts exercise at southern tip of SCS after Malabar exercise. Japan did that with USN over a year ago after Malabar exercise. This is Where they simulate how to protect US ships and subs, the most likely place to fire off Tomahawks at Chinese bases in Hainan and the Spratlys. China should start laying crab torpedoes in that area.

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  3. Simon says:

    China should respond by sending the Liaoning to conduct naval excercise with Russian navy in the Sea of Japan and the Kurils to support Russian claims on islands it held there. Likewise Russia conduct naval exercise with China in the East China Sea around the Diaoyu to support Chinese claims.

    Like

  4. Skull Island says:

    Do not forget that the Izumo aircraft carrier can carry the F-35B VSTOL stealth fighter. The F-35 shocked aggressor aircraft at the RedFlag with a kill ratio of 15 to 1.
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a25078/f-35-red-flag-war-games/

    Like

  5. Mad Max says:

    This Reuters news article is typical CIA cr*p China smear propaganda.

    Notice the standard mandatory inclusion of this phrase :

    “Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the sea which has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits and through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes each year.” or

    “China … growing military presence has fueled concern in Japan and the West, with the United States holding regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.” or

    “United States … appears to be taking a tougher line with China. Washington has criticized China’s construction of man-made islands and a build-up of military facilities that it worries could be used to restrict free movement.”

    You will see these three fake and misleading news statements inserted into almost EVERY article on China and the South China Sea, courtesy of the U.S. propaganda war machine department – the CIA – that johnleecan is indeed right to yawn. Unfortunately however, these statements are insidious and intended to paint a negative picture of China so that if and whenever the U.S. goes to war against China, the Americans and perhaps the world – they hope – are already brainwashed into believing China is the bad guy. Such is the scheming underhand psychwar tactic of the U.S..

    The question arising here is why is a defeated WW II “butcher of Asia” Japan with an ostensibly pacifist constitution allowing itself and its prime minister to be used by Washington in this psychwar againt China?

    What is a carrier helicopter navy warship of the supposedly “Maritime Self Defense Force” doing partaking in a clearly intended offensive operational training OUTSIDE of Japan? As a “defensive” force and chastened defeated murderous WW II nation which argued that its “defensive” force is strictly for its territorial waters only to justify its existence, what’s this contradiction now in sending its warships in Amerika led drills intended to intimidate and potentially attack other countries?

    If Japanese had any ounce of intelligence, they should throw Mr Shinzo “militant grandson of a war criminal” Abe and his ruling LDP out of office. If Japan intends to be a “normal” country and not a colonial vassal, the first thing they should do is be equidistant between the super powers. Remove themselves or remove the American armed forces and military out of Japan. Why be in the cross-hairs?

    But for now, Beijing and Mr Xi MUST place Tokyo and Japan in THE crosshairs. Japan continues to threaten China and the Chinese and it MUST be taught a lesson. The terms of the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations must be enforced and all islands south of Kyushu must be disenfranchised from Japan and Japan’s overly large “Maritime Self Defense Force” MUST be dismantled. It is inappropriate for a defeated aggressor WW II country to have such a force which is even larger than Britain’s or France’s who sits in the UNSC.

    Mr Shinzo “duplicitous” Abe is playing a dangerous game with fire. His words are like that of Mr “hypocrite” Obama : untrustworthy and lacking credibility. Time to put the squeeze on Japanese companies in China and elsewhere? Let him and Tokyo pay the price. He cannot continue to do as what he is doing. Allowing his country to use in a psychwar against China.

    Like

  6. Joseph says:

    I wonder where the Izumo will sail in the SCS or if they dare to even approach Chinese warship there. Yes, it will visit Subic for gunboat diplomacy, but Phillipines president Duterte has flatly refused Japanese demand to report to the Japanese in Subic, reiterating his sovereignty that he would visit there, not report there, only if he has time, which he obviously won’t have time. Last time, the USS Carl Vinson ‘patroled’ the SCS to scare Chinese PLAN. But it was nowhere to be seen on the Chinese claimed territories. They did not even scare Chinese fishing boats there. Would the Izumo do any better? One thing for sure, sending a helicopter barge for gunboat diplomacy won’t raise any prestige. After all, we all know how bad it really got for us when the last time Japanese warships visit us, in the WW2.

    Like

    • Mad Max says:

      Yes, like the American navy, they are entering dangerous waters. There are submarines lurking underwater shadowing them, radars and missiles locked on them, stealth planes and stealth warships with anti ship missiles trained on them, and oh, stealthy drones with missiles keeping an eye on them.

      No wonder one would be scared out of their wits venturing into “enemy waters”!

      Besides, you wouldn’t want to be captured, detained and jailed by those “fearsome unbalanced crazed orientals”, would you? You are afterall blue eyed, decent, civilized humans, no? Yeah? Then what the hell are you doing invading and threatening and intimidating these “wild” orientals on behalf of your masters, for?

      Like

  7. johnleecan says:

    YAWN…Izumo, a worthless piece of crap that should help the coral reefs and marine life in SCS upon its sinking, would be lucky if it indeed can go back to Japan by August 2017. These merciless, sadistic, brutal, inhuman and worthless Japanese creatures should be put down to help mankind.

    Duterte, a wishful thinking trying hard stand up comedian, is a man full of conflicting statements that can’t be trusted.

    The Americans, who stole the land from the native Indians and murdered them rightful owners, should return it to the American Indians. America is just like a businessman who stole billions of dollars and then try to clean his reputation by helping people in need. But no matter how many people he helps, he’s still a criminal. In fact, USA is just like the criminal businessman. A government of corrupted, money politics and using media to deceive the world and make people believe how righteous they are.

    Like


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