Japan, France, US plan first joint military drills next year

Japan, France, and the United States will hold joint military drills on one of Japan’s uninhabited outlying islands in May next year.

The “Sankei” newspaper said on Sunday that these joint military drills will focus on providing relief efforts during a natural disaster, but parts could also form the basis for a defence against attack.

The paper said, without citing sources, the joint exercises aim to counter China, which claims Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

“We want to demonstrate our presence to the region and send a message about Japan-France cooperation,” Admiral Pierre Vandier, chief of staff of the French navy, told Sankei in a separate interview.

“This is a message aimed at China. This is a message about multi-lateral partnerships and the freedom of passage.”

China has said its intentions in the region are peaceful.

But Japan has grown particularly concerned about a rise in Chinese naval activity around the disputed islands in the East China Sea that Tokyo calls the Senkaku, while Beijing refers to them the Diaoyu.

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