Japan, U.S. Hold Joint Drills, Bracing for Contingency around Senkakus, Taiwan
Tokyo, Nov. 11 (Jiji Press)--Japan's Air Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Air Force have conducted joint search and rescue exercises in the skies and seas north of Ishigaki and Miyako islands in Okinawa Prefecture, southernmost Japan, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.
It was the first time ever for the ASDF and the U.S. Air Force to conduct joint drills in the areas. The drills took place Tuesday.
People familiar with the matter said they were held in anticipation of a contingency around not only the Senkaku Islands, some 170 kilometers away from Ishigaki, but near Taiwan.
Japan's national security laws allow the SDF to conduct search and rescue operations and give rearguard support for the U.S. military dealing with incidents having "significant influence" on Japan's peace and security. An armed attack on Taiwan can be regarded as such an incident due to its proximity to the Japanese-administered Senkakus, also claimed by China.
The drills were joined by the ASDF's UH-60J helicopters from the Naha base in Okinawa and the U.S. Air Force's CV-22 Ospreys for special operations and MC-130J transport planes.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]