Japan, U.S. Preparing for Joint Drills for Senkakus Emergency
Tokyo, March 23 (Jiji Press)--Japan and the United States are preparing for joint exercises assuming an emergency around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Japanese officials said.
The preparations come after the foreign and defense chiefs of Japan and the United States last week agreed to counter China's attempt to change the status quo around the islands that are administered by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, meeting in Tokyo on March 16, agreed to bolster their countries' fast-response capabilities through high-level exercises.
The joint exercises are based on the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines that stipulate that Japan's Self-Defense Forces have primary responsibility for defense of remote islands while the United States provides appropriate support to Japan.
When the guidelines were updated in 2015, "there was a cautious opinion among U.S. officials about to what extent the U.S. side should be involved" in defense cooperation with Japan, said a Japanese source familiar with the talks.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]