Japan commissions largest helicopter carrier

March 18th, 2009 - 11:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, March 18 (Xinhua) Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) Wednesday commissioned its largest helicopter carrier amid international concerns.
The 197-meter long, 13,950-tonne Hyuga, which can carry 11 helicopters on its flat deck, will be stationed in Yokosuka port, near Tokyo, and is expected to be sent on overseas missions such as disaster relief, according to the defence ministry.

The Hyuga has 340 crew, including 17 women officers and sailors on board.

Japan renounced using force in international disputes after it adopted the post-war pacifist constitution. However, the Japanese Self-Defence Forces (SDF), established in 1954, is one of the best funded armed forces in the world.

The carrier raises concern in the region. But the government insisted the destroyer will not carry fighter plane and is different from an aircraft carrier, and that the constitution grants the SDF the right to possess a minimum level of armed force for self-defence.

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