The military exercise, which will take place May 11-17, will be the first large-scale exercise in Japan involving ground troops from all three countries.
Japan will hold a joint military exercise with US and French troops in the country’s southwest next month, the defense minister announced, as China’s actions in regional waters give cause for concern.
The exercise, which will take place May 11-17, will be the first large-scale exercise in Japan involving ground troops from all three countries, the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) said in a statement Friday. ).
It comes as Tokyo seeks to deepen defense cooperation beyond its key US ally to counter Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the East and South China Sea.
“France shares the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters.
“By strengthening cooperation between Japan, the United States and France, we would like to further improve the tactics and capabilities of the self-defense forces in defending remote island territories,” he said.
Paris has strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific where it has territories, including the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean and French Polynesia in the South Pacific.
The joint exercises will be held at the JGSDF’s Kirishima training camp and Ainoura camp in the Kyushu region and will include amphibious operations exercises.
Threats from China
Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden pledged to stand up together against China and step up cooperation on technology as well.
The two leaders also agreed to oppose any attempt “to change the status quo by force or coercion in the East and South China Sea”.
Biden’s first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader was also intended to strengthen joint efforts between the US, Japan, Australia and India, an informal alliance known as “the Quad,” which the new US administration sees as a bulwark. against China in the Indo-Pacific.
The United States accused China of “destabilizing” the region by building artificial islands, as well as naval and air structures in the South China Sea.
Japan has long claimed to feel threatened by China’s vast military resources and territorial disputes.
Joe Biden meets the Japanese prime minister in his first in-person summit with a foreign leader. That’s why it matters 👇 https://t.co/MxSgpASJn8
– Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) April 16, 2021
He is particularly concerned about Chinese activity after the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, which Beijing claims and calls Diaoyu.
Washington has reiterated in recent months that the US-Japan Security Treaty covers the disputed islands.
China claims most of the South China Sea, invoking its so-called “nine-dash line” to justify what it said were historical rights on the main commercial waterway.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan all vie for parts of China’s declared territory in the sea.
An international court in The Hague in 2016 invalidated China’s claims in the South China Sea in a first-ever ruling, also stating that Chinese clean-up activities in the Spratly Islands are illegal. Beijing rejected the decision.