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Japan navy unveils big warship on Hiroshima atomic bombing anniversary

The ceremony to showcase the 248-metre vessel came as Shinzo Abe's conservative government, which took office last December, considers ditching the nation's pacifist constitution and beefing up the military.

Japan plans to use the helicopter carrier, named Izumo and expected to go into service in 2015, to defend territorial claims following maritime skirmishes with China, which has demonstrated its own military ambitions in recent years.

"We express our concern at Japan's constant expansion of its military equipment. This trend is worthy of high vigilance by Japan's Asian neighbours and the international community," China's defence ministry told AFP.

"Japan should learn from history, adhere to its policy of self-defence and abide by its promise of taking the road of peaceful development."

The unveiling ceremony took place on the 68th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima -- a date clash which Tokyo said was coincidental.

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