Japan Unveils the Izumo, Its Largest Warship Since WWII, Amid Tensions With China

  • Share
  • Read Later
Kyodo News / AP

Japan's new warship "Izumo", which has a flight deck that is nearly 250 meters (820 feet) long, is unveiled in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013.

On Aug. 6, Japan launched its largest warship since World War II in a fresh demonstration of Tokyo’s steadily expanding naval capabilities. The unveiling of the destroyer — with a conspicuously large flight deck — has drawn attention from its neighbors, especially longstanding regional rival China, which in the past decade has embarked on a massive program of military modernization.

Japan’s pacifist constitution, which was largely drafted by the U.S. after the war, renounces the use of force for purposes other than self-defense. That means the country has no offensive arsenal of long-range missiles, aircraft carriers or similar weapons of aggression. The Izumo, which can be used to launch helicopters, still doesn’t cross the line, the Japanese government says. But the almost 20,000-ton vessel is capable of carrying up to fourteen helicopters, with a maximum of five taking off and landing at once according to Bloomberg. It’s set to be deployed by March of 2015. Tokyo says that the Izumo cannot carry planes, since it lacks the catapults necessary for seaborne take-off. Instead, officials maintain that the carrier will be used for disaster and rescue missions — in the aftermath of a tsunami, perhaps — as well as for responding to “various contingencies in waters near Japan,” reports broadcaster NHK.

(MORE: For Better or Worse, Japan to Ease Reins on Its Military)

But Chinese officials, who remain cognizant of Japan’s savage invasion and occupation of China some seven decades ago, say they aren’t fooled. The helicopter carrier could be easily retrofitted for fighter jet capability, Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the People’s Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the state-run China Daily. “It is an aircraft carrier, and Japan just called it a helicopter destroyer to downplay its aggressive nature,” he said. (China recently debuted its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning,a refurbished Soviet-era vessel.)

In recent years, territorial disputes between Japan and China have flared over uninhabited islands that Tokyo administers but Beijing claims. The return to power of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who campaigned on a nationalist platform, and the rise of Xi Jinping, China’s new patriotically minded President, have further heightened distrust between the world’s second and third largest economies.

(MORE: The Identity Crisis That Lurks Behind japan’s Right-Wing Rhetoric)

The Chinese remain aggrieved that Tokyo has, to this day, only offered fumbling apologies for the savage bloodshed inflicted during World War II (apologies that are then undermined by the unrepentant utterances of Japanese right-wingers). Japan meanwhile frets over China’s increasing regional assertiveness as the budding global power flexes new muscles in the neighborhood. Tokyo’s response has been to place a new emphasis on its military capacity. In January, the country boosted its defense spending for the first time in a decade, albeit by 0.8%. Japan is also considering whether to ease restrictions on the use of its military, which is currently barred by the constitution from almost all activities but national defense. China’s 2013 military spending, revealed in March, increased by 10.7% over the last year, although foreign analysts believe the hike may be even higher.

The spats between the two countries have stoked public sentiment on either side. A survey published Aug. 5 by Genron NPO, a Japanese think tank, and China Daily found that more than 90% of Japanese and Chinese citizens had unfavorable views of the other country. Last year, 64.5% of Chinese citizens reported unfavorable feelings toward Japan, while 84.3% of Japanese felt the same way of their neighbors to the west.

MORE: Why Japan is Still Not Sorry Enough

107 comments
eetom
eetom

China should learn to be submissive instead of being assertive.  It should learn to rein in its nationalism and allow its neighbors to be patriotic, which is their right.  It should know that its offensive militarism will be met with a rising tide of defensive militarism.  It is just not right for China to challenge the American leadership of the democratic world and to offend America's bosom friend such as Japan.

We cannot help but look back with nostalgia on those good old days when a few gunboats turned up at China's coast was enough to send a chill down the spine of the emperor in Peking.  China is so big why should it be to stingy to spare a few pieces of rocks on the vast Ocean?  UN should pass a motion to rename the East China Sea as Sea of Japan and the South China Sea as Sea of Vietnam on the north and Sea of Philippines on the South.  It is time that we should join hands and scrape a few scales from the red dragon just as it was done during the Qing dynasty.

People of the world who love peace should unite and take a few snips from China's border.  It will be easy, profitable and fun.

KrondarGemstone
KrondarGemstone

catapults would be so easy to put on that thing in a pinch, lol. that's like saying "this isn't a car, because it doesn't have an air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror."

axing01
axing01

Hi guys, I'm a Taiwanese.

I'm pretty sure 90% of us would agree that Mao Zedong and his fellows are criminals, and militaristic Japan had made Asia a living hell in WWII.

IT'S OBVIOUSLY EVERY COUNTRY HAS SOME RETARDED POLITICIANS.

It's really not about the country itself or the people who live in the country. It's about whether the leaders could make an ethical decision or not.

We all know the fact that Chinese communists are corrupted, but it doesn't give Japan a reason to follow militarism or worship militarist criminals in any form.

I really love most Japanese people and all the innocent Chinese people.

Please, don't make Asia a living hell again.


demackinnon
demackinnon

China has little grounds for complaining given its massive military build-up and aggressive provocations against its neighbours. The Japanese are fully justified in build up their defenses.

BillBoxer
BillBoxer

Does the F-35B need a catapult?

darkob
darkob

@rivernewstc Olala, lepa letalonosilka. Zaradi te ladje bodo v skrbeh bolj američani kot kitajci.

ahm
ahm

Remarkably good summary of Japan-China tensions. I have seen foreign policy journals do far worse. Good work, TIME.

ramasubur
ramasubur

In fact non of china's' neighbors like it since it is bullying every one around threatening them and flexing muscle.China is already a rouge bully with Pakistan licking its boots, all peace loving democracies in Asia including Australia can do is enhance the defense relations and be in to pact to defend them selves collectively when china tries to bulldoze any of the democracies.

WilliamBDevittI
WilliamBDevittI

@TIME @TIMEWorld Aye, not to mention the US's recent contribution of another refurbished CG cutter for the Philippines... not good...

ameshodesu
ameshodesu

I heard from the media that Xi Jinping never try to make eye contact with Obama during US-China summit meeting. Anybody knows who Xi Jinping is?. He is shy?

AKL
AKL

It's just so funny how China complains about Japan launching an aircraft carrier. But what did they say when they launched a refurbished carrier last year? Isn't that an act of aggression and in fact, China has already exercised aggression to its neighbors like Vietnam and the Philippines. Japan has not done that to any country, and what probably upset the Chinese is that, Japan has signed a military alliance with the Philippines. One with vietnam is on the way.

China is simply using this event to distract its people from the growing problems in China and the economic slowdown. The only reason the communists are in power is because of the economy. If the economy goes down, so will the communist regime. That's why they are making a big fuss about this "warship". 

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

I absolutely love how all the media outlets - TIME included - keep referring to Japan's new vessel as a, "warship."

Officially, the ship is classified as a destroyer.  However, anyone familiar with how naval ships look can clearly tell that it's an aircraft carrier. 

Second, to call Japan's aircraft carrier a 'warship' is technically misleading.  Aside from self-defense, Japan is constitutionally prohibited from constructing and deploying any and all vessels for the purpose of war.  Therefore, it's more or less a peace-keeping ship.

Third, everyone can agree that China was very-much wronged by Japan, and is still owed a clear apology for the atrocities committed.  However, history will not forget China's acts of cruelty against its own people, and against the nation of Tibet.  Tens of millions have died under China's communist government (earning it the name, 'Red China' until the 1990s).

timzone
timzone

Izumo is valued target for Chinese C-805.

SanMann
SanMann

Some of the comments here are really retarded. This ship Izumo was planned long in advance, and it's not like China was unaware of it in advance. The larger sister ship Hyuga was already built, so how is Izumo something radically new?


From what I see, it's not Japan picking fights with all its neighbors today, it's China which is behaving aggressively on the Spratleys, and claiming the entire South China Sea to be its own private waters. Compare Japan's domestic system of govt, a parliamentary democracy, with China brittle and One Party State, whose opacity still attracts all sorts of Kreminology. I think it's obvious which country is most in need of reform and transformation.


Strange how the Chinese are suddenly filled with angst over memories of WW2 Japan, and yet all these years they had no compunction about accepting many billions in favorable developmental loans from the same Japan. Reminds me of the old saying - "What Have You Done For Me Lately?"

rwainct
rwainct

Can’t build an aircraft carrier/helicopter destroyer [sic] overnight.Lots of fanfare after Japan’s announcement, but where was the reporting prior to the “unveiling”?What else is in the pipeline under the veil?

lcapote1973
lcapote1973

@TIME @TIMEWorld What of that is part of ringwinged japanese politics and what part of USA influence to be an empowered ally in Asia?

klp_pdc@yahoo.com
klp_pdc@yahoo.com

@axing01 The problem is, as soon as China plans a large scale invasion, the first casualty will be Senkaku islands and possibly small islands around Taiwan. If China is unopposed in those skirmishes, it will eventually gobble up Taiwan and then launch an invasion on Japanese isles. I can see it coming. Be very wary.

lamerat
lamerat

@demackinnonAfter 35 million casualties and and utter lack of remorse for causing it...sure..

programmer156
programmer156

@BillBoxer I think it does when the plane is fully loaded with fuel and weapons. Or atleast is needs a runway with a ski jump. It either takes too much fuel or the engine isn't capable enough to take off vertically when fully loaded.

klp_pdc@yahoo.com
klp_pdc@yahoo.com

@ramasubur That's right. China is unofficially the new imperial Japan and CCP officials are almost as racist and have a superiority complex like the imperial Japanese generals. The problem with CCP bullies is that their power is unchallenged in a vast country like China and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is the root cause why Chinese army and navy are the biggest threat to world peace. Even though US has the biggest military on earth, being a democratic state, it's leaders are answerable to people. But CCP is not answerable to anyone. They can oppress and crush all the descent. 

Beware of Chinese bullies. I am just pitying the ordinary Chinese and Tibetan people who want to make a living, but are being oppressed by CCP. They will serve as cannon fodder for Chinese imperialistic design.

knnbccb
knnbccb

@AKL While the US made Japan a valued strategic and economic asset(to safeguard East Asia against communism) Japan paid china much less(which did help beyond the symbolism to be sure) along with conflicted and relatively empty apologies(which also tends to forget  about or deny the humanitarian crimes). 

Yeah, China's the boogeyman ever since to the US power alliance, and recently Japan more than has the right, like the Philippines, to adopt a more nationalistic posture to maintain the power balance even if Japan was basically paid to be pacifist by the US.  But you really can't expect China to react nonchalantly to this, communist or not. China didn't do very well at reconcilling with Japan and then there's the communist thing,(But what about South Korea, another strategic US ally?)  but chinese propaganda wouldn't have anything to grab hold of if there wasn't this everpresent antagonism in Japan. You don't forget about a bully just because he paid reparations has the law stipulated he should. Don't tell me you don't feel any pride or anger or spur to action by the history of your country or people.

And "Izumo" is also the name of the Japanese flagship that invaded China in the 1930s. Time didn't really think it necessary to mention that. Maybe it isn't, but I can tell you it is definitely relevant to the people who's history was tied up to it whether state institutions try to manipulate your emotions or not.

kiu7799
kiu7799

@mrbomb13  

What are you talking about China's cruelty against its own people and killing millions? I am a Chinese and know nothing about it. Can you show me your third party sources to prove it? As to Tibet, it has been part of China for centuries on and off and was part of China by signing the peace treaty by both sides in early 50s. It's nothing compared to US forcefully taking over Texas, California, Nevada, Arizona, Louisiana, Hawaii, Porto Rico, Puerto, Long island and Florida ..., not to mention all the whole land taking from native Indians.

SwiftrightRight
SwiftrightRight

@mrbomb13 Its certainly a warship and its technically classes as a  "Helicopter Destroyer" Toss 10-16 F-35s on it and it will be one of the most powerful warships in the world.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@mrbomb13 Have you ever read anything about what Germany did during the 1930's when it was prohibited by the treaty of Versailles of building ships above a certain tonnage or making powered aircraft for the military?

It's disingenuous to call it anything other than a ship of war because it can be used for offense as well as defense.  And calling it a destroyer is like calling the Titanic a yacht.

AKL
AKL

@timzone The dongfeng missile is not even tested in waters. In theory, it is almost impossible to have an anti-ship ballistic missile capability because it has a lot of moving parts to it. If it were possible, it was already done by someone else. China is not an innovator but just a follower. The dongfeng missile was tested on a stationary target, very much the same as hitting a ground target. Ships are mobile and they have defense mechanisms that can cheat on the current location. China's anti-submarine technology is even primitive at this point...I'm just laughing!!

rorywong654
rorywong654

@SanMann What the loan for--cheap labor , resource and market.There is no free lunch.

AKL
AKL

@knnbccb @AKL The name "Izumo" was there on purpose. It's the arms race that China started. Japan actually reduced its military spending when China increased theirs and the biggest move China made was Senkaku, and every island in the South China Sea that has oil. So, it's China who's causing the trouble and not Japan. China didn't even pay any attention to Senkaku until recently when Japan said there's oil in that area. That's greed. Now, I don't hate Chinese..in fact, I like the culture very much. What I don't like is the communist regime. That communist regime has poisoned the minds of the Chinese people. If China is so bitter about the past, why did China accept massive investments from Japan? And why is China spending too much budget on military spending? And quite recently (last year), China even increased the budget for internal security much more than the military spending? Well, the answer to that is the growing discontent of the people and a preemptive move to stabilize the country in case of a revolt. The same revolt that put the communists in power.

SanMann
SanMann

@rorywong654,

Haha, and they didn't have to drag you into taking those loans. You seemed quite willing to take the money from the "evil Japanese invaders" - how loudly you call them "invaders" seems to depend on how much money they're waving at you. Strange how selectively China's memory functions.

U-915-104-319
U-915-104-319

@SwiftrightRight @knnbccb @AKL China is simply using history as an excuse for its aggression. Give them a chance, they will take up your offer on claiming compensation from Britain over the Opium wars- after they take over all of South East Asia because 5 centuries ago those countries were part of China (which incidentally was ruled by the foreigner Mongols, but that doesn't matter)

MikiUmezaki
MikiUmezaki

@lamerat @SwiftrightRight @knnbccb @AKL  War is war.  the winner never apologizes, and the loser never wants too.  The idea of any country apologizing for waging war, as though they stole a cookie, is ludicrous.  Nobody really expects sincerity from a defeated country and the victor gets to pretend they didn't do anything wrong to get the win.  It's just an excuse to justify animosity.  Every nation has committed heinous acts in the name of imperialism, China, and the US for that matter, is no different.  But in this particular case I can not stand the hypocrisy of the Chinese gov't.  They want the world to chastise the Japanese for building a boat, even as they launch cyber attacks against US and European defense institutions, have invaded neighboring countries (how do you think the people of Tibet feel? And China pressures the US to not recognize Taiwan as a country) and deny many of the most basic rights to their own people.

lamerat
lamerat

@SwiftrightRight @knnbccb @AKL It would be as easy as you suggest if not for the absolute lack of remorse for the aggression, heck they don't even see it as 'invasion'. As their PM puts it: ''The only mistake Japan made was that it did not win the war''.

Say if you are a Chinese, how would you feel?

Furthermore Time did not mention that the previous Izumo was a flagship during the Japanese invasion of China which incidentally open fire on US ships and sunk a Royal navy gunboat 

SwiftrightRight
SwiftrightRight

@knnbccb @AKL Those invasions happened close to a century ago, get over it. 

God what's next are the Chinese going to start up with Britain over the opium wars? Maybe start an arms race with Germany over the Boxer rebellion??

knnbccb
knnbccb

@AKL @knnbccb Can't really blame them for *not destabilizing a large and  populous nation that just got out of poverty...

knnbccb
knnbccb

@AKL @knnbccb I guess. All the other countries Japan invaded pretty much accepted they're never gonna get a straightforward recognition about the war from Japan(except for South Korea lol) and focused on their own problems. China on the other hand had an incompetent Mao at the helm who starved an already poor China simply by reforms to defy western capitalism. 

Though you really can't blame the communist party for not acting illogically regarding giving up their power completely or the people for destabilizing a really large and populous country that just got out of poverty though defying a government which keeps a tight reign in a popular revolt. Political reforms as encouraged by most citizens within China are the only self-beneficial strategy in the long run and external pressure such as this or the US pivot thingy could either speed up the reforms or more likely tighten the communist party's grip on power and "stability"

SanMann
SanMann

@knnbccb,

US and Japan continue to have good relations, and they continue to move forward into the future, without raking up the past for cheap political points. Meanwhile, China is busy biting the hand that feeds them. If Chinese can't get your cash, then suddenly they discover that you're an "evil enemy". You didn't turn down any of the billions in development loans from "enemy Japan" before. How convenient your memory is. The sight of cash somehow distracts your memory very easily. Prostitutes lose their inhibitions very easily when money shows up. But when the money stops, then suddenly they remember their "honor", "pride" and "dignity".

ameshodesu
ameshodesu

@knnbccb @SanMann @rorywong654 now the developed societies joined to bring up a monster. It  has been nvading its neighboring countries. if they feel the slightest obligated to the countries, we ask them to be a decent country that obeys the law

knnbccb
knnbccb

@SanMann @rorywong654 Which pales in comparison with what the US waved at Japan. Examine their history lol. China the communist didn't help matters at all but you're saying you'd be satisfied with some half-assed apologies with lots of denials along with them throwing obligatory cash at you(as the law told you to) when you need it? Of course aknowledged the reparations(silently as well). Yeah Japanese actions today are justified but China's are too. Their own problems with their ideology is none of your business(not that you helped much with that). That's like saying to someone I shouldn't apologize for screwing you up in the past just because you didn't do much to get yourself out of the mess afterwards.