Japan, U.S. eyeing China

The Japanese and U.S. governments are deepening efforts to beef up their capability to jointly deal with contingencies, with China’s military ambitions in mind.

In the latest joint exercise by the two countries, dubbed “Noble Fusion,” the Maritime Self-Defense Force ship Kongo, an Aegis-equipped destroyer, sailed together with the USS Abraham Lincoln, a U.S. aircraft carrier, and the USS Essex, an amphibious assault ship, to conduct vigilance and surveillance activities.

MSDF Chief of Staff Hiroshi Yamamura said at a press conference on Tuesday, “It was an exercise that will help enhance the capabilities of Japan and the United States to jointly deter and deal with contingencies.”

The Ground Self-Defense Force also took part in the exercise, with personnel of its Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade — which is tasked with protecting remote islands — aboard a helicopter landing on the deck of the USS America, an amphibious assault ship of the U.S. Navy, confirming ways to deal with contingencies.

The Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade was established in 2018, modeled after the U.S. Marine Corps, and a new unit will be deployed at GSDF Camp Takematsu in Omura, Nagasaki Prefecture, in fiscal 2023.

China is intensifying its pressure in areas near Japan lately, such as by deploying an aircraft carrier in waters near Okinawa Prefecture. The Japanese government intends to revise the national security strategy — the basic guidelines for the country’s security policy — at the end of this year, reinforcing the Japan-U.S. alliance.