TOKYO - Japan's Self Defense Forces (Army) is set to conduct naval exercises along with U.S. and Indian troops in June, in waters off the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa, in the East China Sea, as a show of strength to Beijing.
The joint maneuvers are aimed at strengthening the interoperability of the three countries in maritime security and underline the presence of the allies in the region in the face of expanding Chinese activities, a Japanese government source told news agency Kyodo Monday.
The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, or MSDF, will thus join, for the third straight year, the so-called "Malabar Exercise," which India and the United States carried out for the first time in 1992.
The MSDF plans to expand its involvement in these joint drills, and also participate in aerial defense and anti-submarine maneuvers, as well as rescue drills, added the source.
Japan and China are embroiled in a dispute over the sovereignty of the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands (known as Diaoyu in China) in the region.
The uninhabited Senkaku islands, located in the East China Sea, around 150 km (93 miles) from northeastern Taiwan, have a total surface area of around seven sq. km (2.7 sq. miles), and could contain significant marine and energy resources.