Tokyo, Dec. 29 (Jiji Press)–The planned conversion of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Izumo destroyer into a de facto aircraft carrier conforms with Japan’s exclusively defense-oriented policy, the top uniformed SDF officer has said.
In addition, the revamp “will enhance the flexibility” of the vessel, said Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff at the SDF Joint Staff.
The revamped Izumo is expected to strengthen the country’s air defense system for the Pacific Ocean by carrying cutting-edge F-35B stealth fighters with short take-off and vertical landing capabilities, Kawano said in a recent interview.
He also defended the capability to attack enemy bases that the Izumo will acquire through the conversion. Regarding how to operate the vessel, he only said the government “will formulate a plan later.”
The government’s new National Defense Program Guidelines, adopted Dec. 18, have marked a “very big step,” Kawano said.
“We haven’t worked very much” on the new fields of space, cyberspace and electromagnetic radio waves, all of which are underscored in the new guidelines, he said.
“We’ll approach them in a totally different manner,” he continued, stressing that the government will put the top priority on the fields.
The guidelines include a plan to establish multidimensional integrated defense capability involving the Ground, Maritime and Air SDF that will also cover the new fields.
“I hope the Joint Staff will lead” the integration, Kawano said, adding that organizational changes and other details will be worked out during the five years through fiscal 2023 to be covered by the new medium-term defense program, adopted also on Dec. 18.