On Tuesday, the last day of his state visit to Japan, U.S. President Trump landed aboard an Izumo-class Japanese vessel with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Trump has become the first U.S. president to board a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s carrier. It was a symbolic gesture, showing the strong military alliance between the U.S. and Japan.
According to NHK, a helicopter carrying Trump and first lady Melania landed on the deck of the Japanese helicopter carrier Kaga stationed at the U.S. Navy's Yokosuka base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo at 10:30 a.m. The first couple got off the helicopter and shook hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie.
Some 500 Japanese and U.S. military personnel received the two leaders with cheers upon visiting them inside the ship’s hangar.
Abe mentioned in his speech that it was the first time that the leaders of the two countries held a joint address for their fleets. “The Japan-U.S. alliance has become more robust than ever under the great partnership that President Trump and I have developed,” said Abe. “The fact that we stand together on board the Kaga today is a testament to such a robust alliance.” With his remarks, the Japanese prime minister symbolically expressed the strong bilateral alliance. Abe invited Trump to Japan to mark the beginning of the Reiwa era and accession of Emperor Naruhito on May 1.
"The JS Kaga sailed through a vast area from the western Pacific through the Indian Ocean last year, to deepen the cooperation with navies of regional partners in close coordination with the U.S. Navy," the Japanese prime minister said stressing that he would like to contribute to regional peace and security by converting the Kaga into a carrier able to deploy fighter jets. Abe showed his support and expressed a strong will to participate in the U.S.’ Indo-Pacific strategy led by President Trump.
Trump mentioned once again Japan’s plan to purchase 105 F-35 stealth fighter jets and said, ““Soon this very ship will be upgraded to carry this cutting-edge aircraft. With this extraordinary new equipment, the Kaga will help our nations defend against a range of complex threats in the region and far beyond.” The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported on Tuesday that “(The two leaders) emphasized peace through strength.”
Kaga is 248m in length and 38m in width. The Japanese government has also announced plans to purchase 42 newest stealth fighter F-35Bs from the US after converting it into an aircraft carrier capable of taking off and landing fighters. When President Trump traveled to Japan for the first time in November 2017, the two countries negotiated the trump card embarkation, but were disappeared.
"The Prime Minister's appeal to the military role of the Self-Defense Forces and the United States emphasizes Japan's military role," said Jiang Chang-soo, head of the Sejong Institute.
Trump arrived aboard Air Force One at Haneda Airport at around 1 p.m. after visiting the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) at the Yokosuka base in Yokosuka.