Japan is sending it largest warship to join in possible action against North Korea in what is being called the nation’s most significant military move since World War II.
The helicopter carrier Izumo will escort supply ships supporting the U.S. Navy’s Carrier Strike Group One, which has been dispatched to the North China Sea.
The Izumo is the largest Japanese warship deployed since World War II, The Japan Times reported. This is the first time a Japanese warship has faced the possibility of action since 1945.
Meanwhile, North Korea is threatening to conduct another nuclear test.
Japan’s constitution technically bars the use of military force except in case of national defense, but Japanese law was amended last year to make it easier for the nation’s military, or Self-Defense Force, to take part in military operations.
The 817-foot-long Izumo is an amphibious assault carrier that can carry up to nine helicopters. The Japan Times noted that the Izumo is as big as a World War II aircraft carrier but is called a destroyer to get around a provision in Japan’s constitution that bars the military from having offensive weapons.
The Izumo’s primary mission will be to protect U.S. and other ships from submarine attack. North Korea reportedly has dozens of submarines.
Japan is not the only country sending ships to the region. The French amphibious assault ship Mistral arrived in Nagasaki on April 29, The Japan Times reported. The Mistral is expected to be joined by another French ship, the frigate Courbet. The French ships will take part in exercises with Japanese, American and British warships in the Pacific.