Japan, U.S. hold antisubmarine drills in S. China Sea

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Maritime Self-Defense Force has conducted antisubmarine drills with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea, marking the first time Japan and the United States have jointly conducted drills of this kind.

The drills are thought to be aimed at strengthening their response capabilities, with China’s aggressive maritime expansion in the South China Sea in mind.

According to the MSDF, a total of four Japanese and U.S. vessels took part in the drills, including the Japanese helicopter carrier Kaga and the U.S. Navy destroyer Milius, as well as two patrol aircraft.

Using an MSDF submarine as a target, the Japanese and U.S. vessels and aircraft searched the area and confirmed the steps to be taken in the event of an attack.

It is unusual for such activities to be made public, as the movements of submarines are highly classified.

“This is the first time [Japan and the United States] have conducted antisubmarine drills in the South China Sea. The fact that we can conduct drills in any sea area shows the high level of interoperability between Japan and the United States,” MSDF Chief of Staff Adm. Hiroshi Yamamura said at a press conference Tuesday.

With China creating artificial islands in the South China Sea and turning them into military bases, nations including Japan, the United States, Britain, Canada and France have been dispatching vessels to the area to keep Beijing in check.