Japan’s navy raises its profile in the South China Sea, conducts joint patrols with U.S.

by WorldTribune Staff, September 16, 2016

Warning of the global consequences of China’s “rule bending” in the South China Sea, Japan’s defense minister said Tokyo will increase its joint patrols with the United States.

Japan also will increase bilateral and multilateral exercises with regional navies, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said on Sept. 15 in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada. /Reuters
Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada. /Reuters

“Japan, for its part, will increase its engagement in the South China Sea through, for example, Maritime Self-Defense Force joint training cruises with the U.S. Navy and bilateral and multilateral exercises with regional navies,” Inada said.

“In this context, I strongly support the U.S. Navy’s freedom-of-navigation operations, which go a long way to upholding the rules-based international maritime order,” she said.

Japan said earlier this month it was prepared to provide Vietnam with new patrol ships. Tokyo also agreed to provide two large patrol ships and lend up to five used surveillance aircraft to the Philippines, another country at odds with China over sovereignty issues in the South China Sea.

In response to Inada’s comments, the U.S. Navy said in a statement: “The United States welcomes Japan’s interest in expanding its maritime activities in the South China Sea. We continue to explore ways to enhance U.S.-Japan cooperative efforts to contribute to the security and stability of the region.”

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