Japan, United States, And France Conduct Military Drills In Anticipation Of China’s Participation.

Military Drills In Japan — Dozens of Japanese, American, and French forces landed on a grassy field in southern Japan from a CH-47 transport helicopter on Saturday as part of a shared scenario protecting a small island from a hostile attack.

The three countries’ first joint exercises on Japanese soil, nicknamed “ARC21,” started Tuesday as they aim to strengthen military relations in the face of growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.

Additionally, Japanese troops and their French and US Marine Corps counterparts held an urban warfare exercise using a concrete structure at the Japanese Self-Defense Force’s Kirishima Training Area in southern Miyazaki prefecture. About 200 troops participated in Saturday’s drills.

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On Saturday, Australia joined the three countries in an extended naval drill involving 11 warships in the East China Sea, where tensions with China are escalating around the island of Taiwan.

The drills take place as Japan seeks to bolster its military capability in the face of an escalating territorial dispute with China in the region’s seas. Japan is growing deeply concerned about Chinese activity in and around the Japanese-claimed waters surrounding the Senkaku islands, which Beijing still claims and refers to as Diaoyu.

Japan’s constitution has restricted the use of force to self-defense since the end of World War II. Japan has continued to broaden its military position, capacity, and expenditure in recent years.

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Japan’s Vice Defense Minister Yasuhide Nakayama, who attended the exercise, emphasized the importance of France’s presence in the annual joint drills between Japan and the United States, and frequently with Australia.

“It was a significant opportunity for the Japanese Self-Defense Force to preserve and reinforce the strategic capabilities needed to protect our isolated islands,” Nakayama said. “By working together, we demonstrated to the world our commitment to protecting Japanese soil, maritime waters, and airspace.”

France has geopolitical priorities in the area, as it has territory in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.

“It is clearly important for us and we need to work with those who share this aspect of the world,” French army Lt. Col. Henri Marcaillou told reporters after Saturday’s exercise.

Lt. Col. Jeremy Nelson of the United States Marine Corps said the three nations demonstrated their ability to collaborate “with a shared purpose or common cause.”

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Britain, which recently announced a program of increased cooperation in the area, is sending the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and its strike force, which is scheduled to arrive later this year. Germany is also planning to send a frigate to the region.

Japan and the United States have been fostering a free and transparent Indo-Pacific vision of security and economic frameworks built on democratic values in the region through a coalition called the Quad, which also includes Australia and India. This is seen as a response to China’s growing presence in the region.

China has denounced the US-Japan framework as a Cold War-era exclusionist bloc.

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