The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force dispatched the Izumo, a helicopter carrier, on Monday morning from Yokosuka base, southwest of Tokyo. The base is also home to the American aircraft carrier Reagan.
“It is extremely significant to show that the deterrent force and readiness of the Japan-U.S. security alliance are powerful,” said Fumio Kishida, Japan’s foreign minister, in remarks to reporters in Turkmenistan, where he was attending talks with his counterparts from several Central Asian countries.
Under Japan’s new security laws, Japan may engage in “collective self-defense,” meaning its military forces may guard the ships or weapons of United States forces when Americans are involved in the defense of Japan.
The laws were largely seen as a first step by Mr. Abe to expand the country’s military power and, eventually, overturn the clause in the country’s postwar Constitution that calls for the complete renunciation of war.
The Japanese public is deeply divided over whether to modernize its Constitution to allow for more military activity. A poll published on Monday by Kyodo News showed that respondents were nearly equally split on the question of whether that pacifist clause should be revised.