A helicopter lands on the Izumo, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force's (JMSDF) helicopter carrier, at JMSDF Yokosuka base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan, December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo
Reuters: Exclusive: Japan plans to send largest warship to South China Sea, sources say
Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.
China claims almost all the disputed waters and its growing military presence has fueled concern in Japan and the West, with the United States holding regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.
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 U.S. naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July.
It will return to Japan in August, the sources said.
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WNU Editor: China will be watching .... China's Navy Will 'Intercept' and 'Follow' Military Vessels and Aircraft (The Diplomat).