U.S. and Japanese “Shield of the East” military exercises began, the largest scale in 36 years

The annual joint U.S.-Japan military exercise “Orient Shield” began Thursday (June 24) and is scheduled to last 18 days, ending July 11.

The scale of this year’s exercise is the largest in the 36 years since the military exercise was established. Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi tweeted that about 3,000 troops from Japan’s Land Self-Defense Force and 1,700 U.S. troops from the U.S. Army’s 40th Infantry Division and a section of the U.S. Army in Japan are participating in the exercise.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the purpose of the exercise is to improve joint response capabilities, coordination and interoperability between the U.S. and Japanese forces to promote a common commitment to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Nobuo Kishi said it is imperative to strengthen cooperation between Japan’s Land Self-Defense Force and U.S. forces in light of Japan’s deteriorating security environment. He also expressed hope that the exercises would improve the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

In recent years, the Chinese military has become increasingly active in the East China Sea, South China Sea and Taiwan Strait with the rapid increase in military power, which has greatly increased military pressure on Japan, Taiwan and other neighboring countries, posing a serious challenge to the U.S.-Japan military alliance. In response to the changing situation, the U.S. has joined Japan, Australia, India and other allies and partners to strengthen its free navigation mission in the region and its efforts to maintain peace and openness throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

U.S. and Japanese forces participating in the exercise held an opening ceremony for the exercise on Thursday, according to Taiwan English News. During the opening ceremony, Army Maj. Gen. Laura Yeager, commander of the U.S. 40th Infantry Division, Lt. Gen. Nozawa Shin of Japan’s Land Self-Defense Force and Kihara Minoru, special adviser to the Japanese prime minister for national security affairs, spoke.

The Orient Shield military exercise began in 1985 and is co-hosted by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S.