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Japan's defense chief says de facto aircraft carrier 'vital' to security

Kishi inspects JS Izumo as it prepares to host F-35Bs at sea

An American F-35B fighter lands on the helicopter carrier JS Izumo in waters near Shikoku, Japan, on Oct 3. (Ministry of Defense handout via Kyodo)

YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi inspected the Maritime Self-Defense Force's JS Izumo helicopter carrier at Yokosuka Base in Kanagawa Prefecture on Monday, receiving updates on the vessel's conversion to host cutting-edge fighters.

The 248-meter-long Izumo's deck is being refurbished to accommodate takeoffs and landings by F-35B fighters, making the vessel a de facto aircraft carrier. Like the warship's helicopters, the F-35B is capable of short takeoff and vertical landing.

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