Beijing: The launch of Japan`s largest warship since World War II has evoked a strong reaction from China, which on Wednesday expressed concern over Tokyo`s "constant expansion" of its military capabilities.
Analysts quoted by the Chinese state-run media described the Japanese vessel as a "defacto aircraft carrier" with a potential to target Beijing`s newly built aircraft carrier Liaoning.
China called on Japan to abide by its policy of peaceful development and warned against its military expansion hours after Tokyo put the helicopter carrier for sea-trials on the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, official media here reported.
"We are concerned over Japan`s constant expansion of its military equipment," state-run Global Times quoted the Chinese defence ministry as saying.
"Japan`s Asian neighbours and the international community need to be highly vigilant about this trend.
"Japan should learn from history, adhere to its policy of self-defence and abide by its promise to take the road of peaceful development," it said.
"The launch of the new warship, a de facto aircraft carrier, without the approval of the Japanese Diet is an effort by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe`s government to break the limits of its peaceful constitution," Liu Jiangyong, deputy head of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, told Global Times.
Japan launched the country`s new-generation 22DDH-class helicopter carrier in Yokohama yesterday. With a length of 248 meters, the USD 1.14 billion carrier, named Izumo, has a displacement of 27,000 tons, with its flight deck being able to carry up to 14 anti-submarine helicopters.
The Izumo, scheduled to enter service in March 2015, is the third helicopter carrier to be used by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
The new warship marks a major improvement in size and capability as it is almost 50 per cent larger than the current Hyuga-class carriers, the Global Times said in its report.
Japanese Defence Ministry said the Japan built carrier could play a major role in disaster and rescue missions, as well as defending sea lanes and sovereignty claims.
The launch coincided with intensification of China-Japan spat over the disputed islands called Daioyu islands by China and Senkakus by Japan in the East China Sea.
Ships from both sides currently are aggressively patrolling the islets waters to ascertain their claims .
"Tokyo wanted to use such an established fact to tell the Japanese public that Japan`s constitution has in reality been revised," he said.