WEB DESK /
Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.
The Izumo helicopter carrier, commissioned only two years ago, will make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar joint naval exercise with Indian and US naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July. It will return to Japan in August.
China claims almost all the disputed waters and its growing military presence has fuelled concern in Japan and the West, with the United States holding regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.
Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the sea which has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits. Japan does not have any claim to the waters, but has a separate maritime dispute with China in the East China Sea.
Japan’s flag-flying operation comes as the United States under President Donald Trump appears to be taking a tougher line with China.