Japan will hold joint military drills with France and the US on the southern Kyushu island from May 11 to 17 amid growing concerns about China’s activity in the South and East China seas, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi announced on Friday.
“The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force troops, jointly with the French armed forces and US Marines, will hold exercises from May 11 to 17 at Ainoura bases and Kirishima training ground,” Kishi said at a press conference.
As part of the drills, the participants will focus on amphibious assault landing operations with the participation of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. The drills will also include joint maneuvers of the three navies.
“France is the only European country that constantly shows its presence in the Indo-Pacific region. France shares our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the minister added.
The news comes as Japan has been trying to enhance security cooperation with regional states in light of what Tokyo called China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the South and East China seas.
Over the past several years, China has increased its territorial and maritime claims in the Indo-Pacific region, overlapping with the interests of a number of nations. In particular, Beijing has been locked in a dispute with Tokyo over a string of uninhabited but resource-rich islets, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China.
In addition, Beijing has boosted the scale and frequency of its military drills in the Indo-Pacific, prompting the United States and its regional allies — Japan, India and Australia — to enhance strategic cooperation within the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue in response.