The military exercise from May 11-17 will be Japan first large-scale drill involving ground troops from all three countries.
Japan will hold a joint military exercise with the US and French troops in the country’s southwest next month, the defense minister said, as China’s regional water activities raise concern.
The exercise will be the first large-scale exercise in Japan involving ground troops from all three nations, the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) said Friday in a statement.
It comes as Tokyo seeks to deepen cooperation in defense beyond its main US ally to fight Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in the East and South China Seas.
“France shares a free, transparent Indo-Pacific vision,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters.
“By improving cooperation between Japan, the United States and France, we want to further develop the Self-Defense Forces’ strategies and skills in defending remote island territories,” he said.
The joint drills will be conducted at the Kirishima training ground of JGSDF and Camp Ainoura in the Kyushu region, including amphibious activity exercises.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden vowed to stand firm against China and step up cooperation, including on technology.
Both leaders have decided to condemn all efforts to “forcibly change the status quo or intimidation in the East and South China Seas.”
Biden’s first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader was also intended to reinvigorate joint efforts between the US, Japan, Australia, and India, an informal partnership known as the “Quad,” which the current US administration considers as a bulwark in the Indo-Pacific against China.
The US accused China of “destabilizing” the area by building artificial islands and naval and air facilities in the South China Sea.
Japan has long said it feels threatened by China’s massive military and territorial disputes.
It is especially concerned about the Japanese-administered Senkaku islands, which Beijing claims and calls Diaoyu.
Recently, Washington clarified that the US-Japan Security Treaty protects the contested islands.
China argues that much of the South China Sea invokes its so-called “nine-dash line” to justify what it said as ancient rights to main trade waterways.
Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan all challenge parts of China’s claimed maritime territory.
In a first-ever decision, an international tribunal in The Hague in 2016 invalidated China’s claims in the South China Sea, saying Chinese reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands are unconstitutional. Beijing dismissed the ruling.
Japan | Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @njtimesofficial. To get latest updates