Tokyo [Japan]: The Japanese Self-Defence Forces and the US Military on Thursday launched a joint military exercise, titled ‘Keen Sword’, to boost their operational capabilities and readiness with an eye on China, the Kyodo News agency reported.
This exercise is scheduled to conclude on November 19 and involves around 26,000 personnel from the Japanese ground, maritime and air self-defence forces. Also, as many as 10,000 US soldiers, including those from the elite ‘Space Force’ are also involved in this exercise.
The Japanese defence ministry said the exercises will involve responding to the threat of ballistic missiles and operations in new spheres of defence such as the outer space and cyberspace.
Drills simulating the defence of remote islands will be in focus on Tokunoshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, with Japanese and U.S. Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft deployed there, the ministry said.
According to Kyodo, the exercise comes amid the Chinese military’s increasing military activities near Taiwan in line with its stated goal of reintegrating it with the mainland, by force if necessary.
China’s maritime moves in the Indo-Pacific region in the recent past has heightened concerns in Tokyo and Washington. China’s military actions included repeated intrusions of its vessels into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands.
China also asserts its claim over the Japanese-controlled, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, calling them Diaoyu.
A total of four warships and two aeroplanes from Australia, Canada and Britain will also join the drills that are held every two years.
The ministry said the exercises are aimed at strengthening the deterrence and response capabilities of the SDF and US forces in dealing with contingencies, as they oppose any unilateral attempts to alter the status quo by force, reported Kyodo.
Meanwhile, in Japan, on Wednesday, the multilateral exercise ‘Malabar 2022’, between the navies of India, Japan, the United States and Australia commenced with the opening ceremony hosted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force onboard the JS Hyuga at Yokosuka, Japan.
Rear Admiral Sanjay Bhalla, Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Fleet, led the Indian delegation, including commanding officers and the crew of INS Shivalik and INS Kamorta.
“The multilateral Ex #Malabar22 b/n the navies of India, Japan, Australia, and US began today with an opening ceremony hosted by the #JMSDF onboard JS Hyuga at Yokosuka, #Japan. RAdm Sanjay Bhalla #FOCEF led the Indian delegation comprising COs & crew of #INSShivalik & #INSKamorta at the ceremony,” an Indian Navy spokesperson said in a tweet.
The Malabar exercise started in 1992 as a bilateral naval exercise between the navies of India and the US. Japan joined the exercise in 2015, making it a trilateral exercise. In 2020, Australia became part of the Malabar drills, making it a quadrilateral naval exercise.
India, US, Australia and Japan are also part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD).