Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: When is an aircraft carrier not an aircraft carrier? When it’s a 250 meter-long “flat top destroyer” capable of carrying 14 helicopters into harm’s way — and Japan says it’s not an aircraft carrier. Tokyo says that the Izumo cannot carry planes, since it lacks the catapults necessary for seaborne take-off and Japanese 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." But Chinese officials, who remain cognizant of Japan’s savage invasion and occupation of China some seven decades ago, say they aren’t fooled and that the helicopter carrier could be easily retrofitted for fighter jet capability. “It is an aircraft carrier, and Japan just called it a helicopter destroyer to downplay its aggressive nature,” says Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the People’s Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute. Commenting on the public unveiling of the 27,000-tonne ship, China’s Defense Ministry warned that Japan should abandon any plans to resume the role of a belligerent in the South China Sea and although Japan has assured everyone that the vessel is designed purely for helicopter operation, the flight deck is hardened to enable it to operate jet aircraft and the Izumo’s outboard aircraft elevator is over-sized meaning it can hold anything from an F-35 JSF jet to a MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor plane. The original Izumo fought against Russia in the 1904-5 battle for dominance of north-east Asia, and was also involved in the Japanese invasion of China during the build-up to the Second World War and the association with a vessel from the most aggressive period of Japan's imperial past could strengthen the impression that it is designed as a move towards militarization.
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