Washington and Tokyo have amassed a record number of sailors, marines and air force men for the biggest joint naval drill that the two allied nations have ever held close to Chinese shores as tensions keep rising in the region.
Around 47,000 troops from the Japan Self-Defense Force have been joined by more than 10,000 US naval combatants for the Keen Sword 19 military exercise.
The US forces participating in the drill include the bulk of the Seventh Fleet, as well as the Submarine Group 7, both of which are based in Japan’s Yokosuka. The Japanese forces have deployed roughly a fifth of its military. Two Canadian warships are also taking part in the exercise.
The navies are tasked with practicing amphibious assaults and ballistic missile defense, as well as aerial combat, all close to Chinese waters. The US nine-ship strike group, led by the nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS ‘Ronald Reagan,’ is also engaged in training for anti-submarine warfare.
Japan, led by the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party, has been ramping up its armed combat forces in accordance to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to enshrine a more assertive role of the military in the nation’s largely pacifist post-WWII constitution.
This year Japan was allowed to create its first elite marine assault unit, the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade.
Therefore Tokyo sent its newest and largest warship – helicopter carrier JS ‘Kaga’ – on a two-month tour in order to promote a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and to foster stronger military ties with Pacific states like the Philippines.
Beijing, meanwhile, had been warning the USA and Japan against violating its sovereignty by letting their combat ships and warplanes come near its territorial waters.
RT.com / ABC Flash Point News 2018.