June 3, 2022
TOKYO – Japan’s helicopter-carrying destroyer Izumo, which continues to be upgraded as a de facto aircraft carrier, will be part of a Maritime Self-Defense Force deployment in the Indo-Pacific starting June 13.
The deployment includes other vessels, such as the destroyers Takanami and Kirisame and a submarine, and aerial units including a P-1 maritime patrol aircraft, and will run through Oct. 28.
The ports of call will cover 12 countries and regions, including Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu in the South Pacific, as well as fellow Quad members the United States, India and Australia. This will be the first port of call in Vanuatu by MSDF units.
The deployment announced by the MSDF is part of the government’s efforts to deter China’s attempts to expand its influence in the region.
Beijing has concluded a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, in an apparent bid to vie with Washington for hegemony in the region. Japan, the United States and Australia are among the countries that have become increasingly wary of China’s moves.
Japan seeks to promote trust with countries in the Indo-Pacific through joint exercises.
“It’s extremely unusual for MSDF vessels to tour intensively around Pacific island nations,” a senior Defense Ministry official said.
In the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, a project team on Pacific island nations in the Foreign Affairs Division held its first meeting on Wednesday. The team plans to compile a proposal this autumn, calling for the government to expand security cooperation with these island nations.