Tokyo, Nov 4: The US and Japan held largest wargames in the pacific region amid rising tensions with China. The joint naval drill between the two countries have amassed a record number of sailors, marines and airmen for the biggest joint naval drill that the two allied nations have ever held close to Chinese shores as tensions keep rising in the region.
The joint military drill which is known as 'Keen Sword', involves around 47,000 troops from the Japan Self-Defense Force and more than 10,000 from the US servicemen, reports RT television network.
Japanese contingent, Rear Admiral Hiroshi Egawa, said that the US-Japanese alliance is "essential for stability in this region and the wider Indo Pacific."
Lieutenant General Jerry Martinez,who leads the US troops stationed in Japan, said "The record-breaking drill is set to demonstrate "the strength and durability of the US-Japan alliance" and the nations' "shared pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific region". Keen Sword is the biggest drill of its kind since the biennial joint maneuvers were launched in 1986.
The US forces participating in the drill include the bulk of the Seventh Fleet, as well as the Submarine Group 7 .Tokyo has deployed roughly a fifth of its of its military. Two Canadian warships are also taking part in the exercise.
The navies are tasked with practicing amphibious assaults and ballistic missile defense, as well as aerial combat, all close to Chinese waters. The US nine-ship strike group, led by the nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS 'Ronald Reagan,' is also engaged in training for anti-submarine warfare.
Chinese officials had accused the US of abusing the 'freedom of navigation' principle, and are saying that its naval maneuvers contribute to the rise of tensions in the already contentious region. In September, a Chinese warship almost suffered a collision with Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS 'Decatour' as it was trying to fend off the US vessel Beijing said came too close to its waters in the South China Sea.
Last week, President Xi Jinping declared China will also step up its naval capabilities. The nation must "concentrate preparations for fighting a war" and increase the amount and scope of military exercises. (UNI)