TOKYO – Japan and america launched a significant joint military exercise in southern Japan on Thursday as Allies seek to extend readiness within the face of China’s growing assertiveness and increasing North Korean rocket launches.
Every two years, Keen Sword exercises began at a Japanese airbase in southern Japan, in addition to at many other locations in and around Japan. They may run until November 19.
In line with the Japanese Ministry of Defense, around 26,000 Japanese and 10,000 American soldiers, in addition to 30 ships and 370 aircraft on either side, are expected to take part in the exercise. Australia, Great Britain and Canada may even join a few of the exercises.
Joint field training, which incorporates amphibious assault exercises, is planned in distant islands in southwestern Japan, including Tokunoshima, Amami and Tsutarajima, as Japan strengthens its defensive capabilities within the region amid rising tensions in China.
China has strengthened its claims to virtually the complete South China Sea by constructing artificial islands equipped with military installations and airports. Beijing also claims that the East China Sea hosts a series of Japanese-controlled islands and has intensified military harassment of autonomous Taiwan, which it claims is a component of China, which have to be annexed by force if vital.
The joint exercise can be accompanied by a surge in rocket launches by North Korea, which launched greater than 30 of them this yr, including one on Wednesday that fell in the ocean between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. Last month, an ICBM flew over northern Japan.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, citing the deteriorating security within the region, pledged to significantly increase Japanese military capabilities and possibly allow a pre-emptive attack on enemy missile launch sites from a distance. The plans are expected to be incorporated into the revised national security strategy and mid- to long-term defense guidelines later this yr.
The move towards strike capability is a significant shift in Japan’s self-defense principle, although the country has rapidly expanded its military role and capabilities over the past decade to work more closely with america and other partners within the region and Europe.
Exercises just like the Keen Sword provide Japanese and US forces “the chance to coach together in numerous mission areas in realistic scenarios to extend preparedness, interoperability and construct a reputable deterrence,” US Forces Japan said in an announcement on Thursday.