Japan Sending Its Definitely-Not-an-Aircraft-Carrier Into the South China Sea
And some say our allies don’t hold up their end of the bargain.
Given Tokyo’s close alliance with Washington, and its strained relations with Beijing, it makes sense for Japan to flex its muscles in the body of water. Foxtrot Alpha noted in February that Chinese Coast Guard ships encroached into waters near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which was the fourth incursion of the year at the time, according to Japan. In the event of a military conflict, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said during his visit to Japan last month that Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, which allows for the use of military force, covers the islands.
The Izumo itself is a fascinating vessel. Japan insists on calling it a helicopter destroyer likely because Article 9 of its constitution “renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation,” which would seemingly forbid offensive weapons like an aircraft carrier, even though it clearly appears to have the capacity to function as a STOVL (short take-off and vertical landing aircraft) carrier. To be sure, the Izumo is not the equivalent of the American Nimitz-class or Ford-class super carrier. Instead, it’s similar to smaller carriers like the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour or the Spanish ship Juan Carlos I.