TOKYO, Dec. 6, Kyodo — Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Tuesday inspected Japan’s largest naval vessel since World War II, the Izumo helicopter carrier, at a Maritime Self-Defense Force base southwest of Tokyo.
Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada told a press conference in Tokyo that she will meet Carter on Wednesday to reaffirm the strength of the bilateral alliance and discuss the challenges they should address, saying it is important to do so ahead of the transition to the new U.S. administration under President-elect Donald Trump.
The talks are expected to “lead to close cooperation between Japan and the United States hereafter,” Inada said.
Carter is expected to pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, according to Japanese government officials.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. defense chief toured the 19,500-ton Izumo, the postwar MSDF’s largest-ever destroyer, at the Yokosuka naval base in Kanagawa Prefecture. The vessel is capable of carrying helicopters for patrol and rescue operations and can function as a floating base.
Japan and the United States have used the vessel for joint exercises, including landing and takeoff drills for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which takes off and lands like a helicopter but cruises like a plane.