The Japanese government has been caught in a lie over its plans to retrofit the Izumo destroyer and effectively transform the vessel into an aircraft carrier.
Officials initially presented the project as simply one that would strengthen the nation's ability to defend outlying islands and secure the safety of Self-Defense Force pilots by reducing their flight times.
When Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya was asked by opposition lawmakers in March if U.S. fighter jets would be allowed to use the Izumo, he stated that only if the aircraft had no closer landing points while flying out at sea.
It now turns out that Japanese officials then informed their U.S. counterparts that U.S. fighter jets would likely be the first to use the Izumo for landings and take-offs.
Improvements to the Izumo deck and other measures to allow aircraft to land and take off from the ship will finish in fiscal 2020. Another MSDF destroyer, the Kaga, will also be retrofitted, with plans calling for completion in fiscal 2022.
The government has also approved a plan to purchase U.S.-made F-35B fighter jets which have short take-off and vertical landing capabilities. The F-35B jets will be mainly used on the Izumo and Kaga, but the aircraft will not be deployed until after fiscal 2024.
That leaves open the possibility of at least a three-year period when the Izumo would be capable of being used as an aircraft carrier, but with the Air SDF having no such aircraft in its arsenal. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Asahi Shimbun website.