With the formal commissioning of the "Izumo", together with two "Hyuga" class helicopter carriers previously outfitted as destroyers, Japan will actually have three quasi-carriers. If equipped with F-35 fighters they will become full aircraft carriers.
It is obvious that there must be political significance in the name of the new helicopter carrier - "Izumo", the same name as the flagship involved in the Japan-Russia War and the war of aggression against China in the 1930s – and in the launch date, which coincided with the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The largest vessel in Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Izumo is the first of the 22DDH class. Its launching ceremony took place on August 6th in Yokohama, Kanagawa. It is 50m longer than the previous "Hyuga" class helicopter destroyer, which had a maximum load displacement of 13,500 tons. The date of its launch was the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The combination of prayers for peace with the launch of a weapon of war aroused concern in the international community.
"The largest destroyer" or a genuine aircraft carrier?
It is reported that the pennant number of the Izumo is 183. It is 248 meters long and 38 meters wide with a displacement of 19,500 tons and a full load displacement of 27,000 tons. It is the largest vessel in Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force. The vessel is reputed to have cost JPY 113.9 billion (about USD 1.1598 billion), and is scheduled to enter service in March 2015.
The Izumo is able to carry MV-22 "Osprey" tilt-rotor aircraft and can carry 14 helicopters at full load, with the capacity for 5 simultaneous helicopter take-offs or landings. It has been described as a "helicopter carrier" by many media. It is equipped with 3 "Phalanx" weapon systems and 2 "Ram" missile launch facilities. Because it has a complete deck from bow to stern, its appearance is similar to that of an aircraft carrier. With modifications, it may also have the ability to carry F-35B fighters. The U.S. "Global Security" website has pointed out that in displacement, form, and functions, the 22DDH fully conforms to the characteristics of a light aircraft carrier.
However, after its defeat in WWII, Japan was forbidden to have aircraft carriers. For this reason, Japan refuses to recognize the vessel to be an "assault aircraft carrier" on the basis that the Izumo has no fixed-wing facilities, and describes the Izumo as an "offshore base" that can conduct long-term offshore defense missions, or a helicopter destroyer. According to this claim, the 22DDH is unquestionably the largest destroyer in the world – in comparison, the largest destroyer in the U.S. fleet is the Burke class, with a displacement of less than 10,000 tons.
According to military experts, with the formal commissioning of the Izumo, together with two "Hyuga" class helicopter carriers formerly outfitted as destroyers, Japan will in fact have three quasi-carriers. If equipped with F-35 fighters they will become full aircraft carriers.