U.S., Japan, France and Australia’s first joint military exercise to counter China’s aggressive behavior

The United States, Japan, France and Australia on Tuesday (May 11) launched the first joint military exercise in southwestern Japan. The exercise is aimed at improving the defense capabilities of the outlying islands and responding to China’s aggressive posture in Asian waters.

The exercise, code-named “Arc21”, includes air, land and sea and will last for one week, ending on May 17. Japanese media Kyodo News reported that Japanese ground forces began the first large-scale joint military exercises with the United States and France on Japanese territory Tuesday to enhance coordination and cooperation.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said before the exercise that the week-long joint military exercise shows that Tokyo seeks to deepen defense cooperation, including not only U.S. allies, but also “like-minded countries.

France “is the only European country that has a permanent military presence in the Indo-Pacific region,” Nobuo Kishi said. “It is also a like-minded country that shares Japan’s vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

France has strategic interests in the Indian Ocean, with overseas possessions such as Reunion Island and Mayotte. France has a total of nearly 3,500 troops stationed on the two Indo-Pacific islands by the army, navy and air force.

Takashi Kawakami, director of the Institute of World Studies at Japan’s Takushoku University, told AFP: “The exercise is certainly a deterrent to China’s increasingly aggressive behavior in the region.”

He added: “In the long run, Europe’s commitment in the Indo-Pacific region could lead to a closer relationship between Japan and NATO, which was advocated by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.”

Kyodo News reported that the U.S. amphibious dock transport ship New Orleans, along with patrol and Fish Hawk aircraft, the French amphibious assault ship Raider and frigate The exercise will be joined by the French amphibious assault ship “Thunderbolt” and frigate “Sokouf” and the Australian frigate “Parramatta” respectively.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force told Kyodo News that Japan’s participation in the exercise includes the helicopter frigate “Ise”, the Aegis ships “Ashigara” and “Kongo”, the transport ship “The exercise included seven surface ships, including the helicopter frigate Ise, the Aegis ships Ashigara and Kongo, and the transport ship Osumi, as well as submarines and patrol aircraft.

China claims sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, citing its so-called nine-dash line to justify its claim of historical sovereignty over important trade routes in the South China Sea.

Japan has long said it feels threatened by China’s vast military resources and territorial disputes. China has recently stepped up its activities near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands (known in China as the Diaoyu Islands) and their affiliated islands.

China recently passed a maritime police law that gives the Chinese maritime police the power to use weapons, causing many countries to be on high alert.