Speaking on a Japanese warship on Monday, Brigadier General Kevin Schneider, commander of the US-Japan Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the exercise would demonstrate the US-Japan alliance’s ability to “send troops to defend Senkakus or to respond to” situations “or” combat “situations.
Tensions in the uninhabited rock chain, 1,200 miles (1,900 km) southwest of Tokyo, have been a mystery for years, and with claims about them for centuries, both Japan and China have had no hope.
Chinese ships have spent a lot of time in the waters around the island this year, according to Tokyo.
The US-Japan exercise called Keen Sword 21 has been held for more than 30 years. This year’s exercise runs through November 5.
Violation of the American Treaty
The Japanese-Chinese military’s hopes of confronting the disputed islands are even worse because of a US-Japan defense treaty forcing Washington to defend the islands as US territory.
The United States has stuck to the treaty, Schneider said Monday.
In July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo consolidated the Senkakus conflict in the Indo-Pacific region, where he said China was “territorial disputes” as part of its “persecution” of Asian neighbors.
Thus, the largest US-Japanese military presence in the Pacific this week raises the possibility that Tokyo and Washington insist on unification of the Senkakus and beyond.
The force consisted of about 9,000 U.S. troops, a group of U.S. aircraft carriers, more than 100 U.S. fighter jets, more than 37,000 Japanese troops, 20 fighter jets of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, 100 Japanese jets, and a 400-kilometer Sena fighter jet on the mainland.
While not a formal military ally like NATO, Quad is seen by some as a potential opposition to China’s expanding influence and accused of aggression in the Asia-Pacific. The protests have been condemned by Beijing as anti-China.
Naval forces from all four Quad countries will take part in the massive Malabar exercise in the Indian Ocean in May.
But first, the Chinese eye may be focused on what is happening to the Keen Sword.
A statement from the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii states that the U.S. and Japanese Armed Forces “will be trained in” comprehensive scenarios designed to leverage critical Japanese defense capabilities and respond to crises or conflicts in the Indo-Pacific region. “
The Pacific Army said in a statement that it would carry out a wide range of combat capabilities and demonstrate the resilience and capabilities of US and Japanese troops.
Pictures released by the U.S. Navy on Monday show 16 U.S., Japanese and Canadian warships sailing in the Philippines as the Keen Sword begins.
Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Intelligence Service, says large-scale military exercises have “barrier value” to China.
“They show (the seizure) will not be cheap or change,” he said.
Corey Wallace, an assistant professor of Japanese foreign policy at Kanagawa University, said the drills demonstrate the level of engagement between the Japanese and US armies.
The United States will land the MV-22 Osprey on Japan’s largest warship, JS Kaga, Wallace said. And it may just be a reflection of what the two armies might do in the future with their military-style fighters.
“This speaks to the intense nature of the great maneuver, but there are still future possibilities for further crossings, perhaps the first time with a US F-35B aboard a Japanese ship, and possibly a Japanese F-35Bs aboard the American continent,” Wallace said. “Demonstration of interaction between the two forces in real-life situations is more important, otherwise, than a shiny hardware display.”
Meanwhile, with heavy drills, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is in the midst of two drills in the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea, according to the PLA’s official website. The nature of the exercise was not disclosed.
The drills, scheduled to end on November 10 and October 30, respectively, are just the latest in a few difficult months for the Chinese military, which has recently had five simultaneous drills.
CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report.