The ruling bloc on Dec. 13 approved the final draft of the new Mid-Term Defense Program, which will be soon finalized by the cabinet. The approval gives the greenlight for the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s “Izumo-class” destroyer to be converted into a de facto aircraft carrier. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has obtained the understanding of its junior coalition partner Komeito, which was cautious [about the Izumo’s refurbishment], by confirming in written form that the modified Izumo-class destroyer will not carry fighters on a standing basis and will operate within the bounds of Japan’s exclusively defense-oriented policy. (Abridged)
[Main points of the ruling bloc’s written confirmation regarding the refurbishment of the “Izumo-class” destroyer]
- The upgraded Izumo-class destroyer will carry “F-35B” state-of-the-art stealth fighter jets to strengthen Japan’s air defense. But the jets will not be based on the destroyer on a standing basis.
- The upgraded Izumo-class destroyer will continue to be tasked with defense operations and relief activities in the event of major disasters as a multi-purpose destroyer capable of carrying helicopters, providing medical care, serving as a command center, sealifting equipment, and accommodating personnel.
- The upgraded Izumo-class destroyer is not an “attack aircraft carrier.” Japan is constitutionally not prohibited from possessing it.