Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) will send one of its two Izumo-class helicopter carriers on a two month-long tour of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean for the second straight year. The 248 meter-long (814 ft) JS Kaga, which can operate several helicopters simultaneously, will make stops in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and at ports in India and Sri Lanka. The ship will also make a port call at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base at around the same time as the 12th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and the 5th ADMM-Plus meeting are scheduled to be held there (18-20 October).
Japan shares concerns about the growing Chinese presence in the region where major trading routes pass that are vital to the US and Japanese economies. But Japan abstained from taking part in US military operations, fearing that doing so would cause China to increase its presence in the East China Sea, where the two countries are already in conflict regarding a contested archipelago, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sent out Kaga ’s sister ship, JS Izumo (DDH 183), on a similar tour last year.
JS Kaga (DDH-184) is a helicopter carrier (officially classified by Japan as a helicopter destroyer) and the second constructed ship in the Izumo class of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Her namesake arises from Kaga Province in present-day Ishikawa Prefecture. The ship bears the same name, and almost the same size in length, as aircraft carrier Kaga, which served in the Imperial Japanese navy in WWII. The original Kaga was sunk in June 1942 near Midway Atoll. JS Kaga design features were intended to support fixed wing aircraft such as the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey and Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II; although neither the Ministry of Defense nor the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force have mentioned the possibility of introducing fixed-wing aircraft.