The Maritime Self-Defense Force on March 25 officially commissioned the largest ship in its fleet, a massive destroyer that gives it the capability of detecting highly advanced Chinese submarines.
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani attended a ceremony in Yokohama's Isogo Ward for the official launching of the Izumo as a ship flying the MSDF flag.
"This heightens our ability to deal with Chinese submarines that have become more difficult to detect," an MSDF officer said.
The Izumo measures 248 meters in length, leading some, including media in China and South Korea, to describe it as a "semi-aircraft carrier." It is 51 meters longer than the destroyer Hyuga, which was the largest ship in the MSDF fleet until now.
Jane's Fighting Ships, a respected reference book on the world's warships released annually in Britain, describes the Izumo as a helicopter carrier.
The Izumo has five landing spots on its flight deck for reconnaissance helicopters that can locate submarines. It can carry up to nine helicopters at a time, five more than the Hyuga.
The Osprey transport aircraft that the Ground SDF will deploy in the fiscal year beginning in April can also land on the Izumo.
The Izumo joined the MSDF's Escort Flotilla 1, which is based in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Construction on the ship began in fiscal 2010, and total costs were about 120 billion yen ($1 billion). THE ASAHI SHIMBUN