Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Japan, U.S. among 4 nations in joint exercise in S. China Sea | The Asahi Shimbun: Breaking News, Japan News and Analysis

Must read

Japan, the United States, the Philippines and Australia conducted a joint maritime exercise in the South China Sea on April 7 as China also dispatched its own patrols the same day in the sea. 

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Akebono, the Mobile littoral combat ship from the U.S. Navy, and Australian and Philippine frigates participated in the exercise. 

The quadrilateral training is seen as a check on China’s increasingly assertive actions in the strategic waterway, while the Chinese exercise is viewed as a countermeasure in response. 

Although the four countries conducted a joint maritime exercise near Manila in August last year, the latest drill, conducted on a larger scale, was described as the “first multilateral maritime cooperative activity” by the group.

It was held in the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ), according to the Philippines’ defense department.

The exercise included communication drills and a passage near the Ayungin Shoal, where Chinese vessels have been accused of harassing Filipino ships. Anti-submarine warfare training was also planned to be part of the exercise. 

In a joint statement issued on April 6, the four countries said they “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight, and respect for maritime rights under international law.”

The statement is seen as a move by the United States and its allies to strengthen defense cooperation in response to China’s land reclamation and militarization activities in the Spratly Islands.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Romeo Brawner Jr. announced on April 8 that the exercises were completed as planned.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. told reporters on the same day that he hopes the exercise will help to deter a conflict with China.

On April 7, China’s military also conducted a joint air and sea patrol in the South China Sea.

The Chinese Southern Theater Command, which oversees the South China Sea, announced that day that it had conducted a joint air and sea “combat patrol.”

The statement said that China is aware of all military activities disrupting the stability of the South China Sea and creating conflict.

The Philippines, with limited naval resources, sees defense cooperation with the United States and its allies as vital to counter China.

The first-ever Japan-U.S.-Philippines trilateral summit will be held in Washington on April 11.

(This article was written by correspondent Toshiya Obu in Bangkok.)

Latest article