Jan 7, 2018
Proposal to convert MSDF's Izumo into aircraft carrier merges at Japan´s Defense Ministry
Within the Defense Ministry, there is even a proposal circulating to convert the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF)'s Izumo helicopter carrier into a regular aircraft carrier. The idea is unlikely to be adopted, as it would risk shaking the foundations of Japan's defense-only policy. However, discussions on how best to prepare the SDF with defense capabilities have heated up noticeably within the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as China continues to emerge as a major military power and North Korea forges ahead with its ballistic missile and nuclear arms programs.
The current National Defense Program Guidelines were approved by the Cabinet in 2013, along with the five-year "Mid-term Defense Program" plan specifying equipment acquisition priorities. The guidelines will expire in mid-2020.
The proposal to convert the Izumo into a true aircraft carrier apparently emerged primarily from among the Defense Ministry's uniformed personnel, taking advantage of Prime Minister Abe's policy of reviewing both the defense program outline and midterm defense buildup plan.