Prime Minister Shinzo Abe commented on the plan to refit the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (MSDF) helicopter carrier Izumo as an aircraft carrier for takeoff and landing of fighters at the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Affairs on Feb. 28. He said: “It is quite natural that we should undertake basic research on the equipment we currently possess, such as collecting objective data on their potential for future development.”
Last spring, the MSDF commissioned the company that built the Izumo to study state-of-the-art aircraft models suitable for operating onboard the destroyer. This company was asked to study the necessary equipment for long-term sustained operation of multiple aircraft models, the cost and length of time needed for refitting this vessel, and other related issues. The study is currently taking place.
Abe acknowledged that the U.S. forces’ stealth fighter F-35B, which the government is considering for operations on the Izumo, is a model that has ground attack capability, but said that, “We will use such capability within the bounds of the constitution.“ This was in response to a question from the Japanese Communist Party’s Toru Miyamoto.