Japanese authorities revealed the 250-meter-long destroyer Izumo at a ceremony in Yokohama on Tuesday. The $1.2 billion Japanese-made vessel will be capable of carrying at least nine helicopters when it goes into service in 2015.
Tokyo says the warship is designed for use in defense and surveillance of Japanese-claimed waters, such as those around an East China Sea island chain where China also claims sovereignty. The Izumo also is intended to provide assistance to areas affected by natural disasters.
The Japanese military is barred from building up offensive capabilities by the country’s pacifist constitution, but the government of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering modifications to that restriction.
Beijing has long viewed Japanese military activities with suspicion and accused Tokyo of failing to fully atone for 20th century wartime atrocities against China.
China’s growing military arsenal also has alarmed its Asian neighbors, as the build-up has coincided with an increasingly assertive Chinese stance on maritime disputes. Beijing commissioned its first aircraft carrier last year.