Mutekiyō was initially laid down for the Royal Navy as HMS Bellerophon, before the Invincible-class design was rejected by the Royal Navy in favour of additional King George VI-class ships. Consequently, the Invincible-class ships were sold to other countries in the Allied Pact. The Republic of Japan Navy wanted a new, large ship to project power around the Pacific, and consequently, purchased the Bellerophon. Once the hull was completed, the Bellerophon was towed to Nagasaki, where West Japanese electronics were installed and the ship was completed. At her commissioning, Bellerophon was renamed Mutekiyō.
The Republic of Japan is planning to replace Mutekiyō with two new Shōhō-class light carriers before 2020.