A joint biennial military exercise between Japan and the United States is not something new to these two countries, especially since there are US bases in Japan. But this time around, the drill is taking special significance due to the ongoing territorial dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
China‘s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said they are keeping a close eye on “relevant moves” by the Japanese government, when asked about this joint military exercise. The Chinese government has accused Japan of “manufacturing tensions in the region” and also taking an aggressive stance in this political and territorial stand-off, so to speak. Both countries have been sending patrol ships near the islands and there is a growing concern that this can escalate into a more violent clash, should there be unintended collisions or accidental actions that might be seen as signs of aggression by either side.
Officials from Japan and China have been in talks since October, but so far, no resolution has yet been reached. Japan officials have claimed that there has been an increase in Chinese air operations which have led to emergency “scrambles” by Japanese fighter jets to protect the airspace. The Defense Ministry said that 54 fighter jets were dispatched from July-September, which is a far cry from the 15 scrambles they had before all this tension escalated.
The joint military exercise will be held from November 5-16, with 37,400 Japanese military personnel and 10,000 US troops. Expect a close scrutiny over these exercise drills.
[ via MSNBC ]