The military exercise, which runs from May 11 to 17, will be the first full-scale exercise in Japan involving ground troops from all three countries.
Japan will hold a joint military exercise with US and French troops in the southwest of the country next month, the defense minister said, as China’s actions in regional waters raise concerns.
The exercise, which runs May 11-17, will be the first full-scale exercise in Japan involving ground troops from the three countries, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) said in a statement on Friday.
It comes as Tokyo seeks to deepen defense cooperation beyond its main U.S. ally to counter Beijing’s growing assertion in the East and South China Seas.
“France shares the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters.
“By strengthening cooperation between Japan, the United States and France, we would like to further improve the tactics and skills of the self-defense forces to defend remote island territories,” he said.
Paris has strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific where it owns territories, including the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean and French Polynesia in the South Pacific.
The joint exercises will take place at the JGSDF training ground in Kirishima and at Camp Ainoura in the Kyushu region and will include amphibious operations exercises.
Threats from China
Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US President Joe Biden pledged to stand together against China and step up cooperation, including in the area of technology.
The two leaders also agreed to oppose any attempt to “change the status quo by force or coercion in the East and South China Seas.”
Biden’s first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader was also intended to boost joint efforts between the United States, Japan, Australia, and India, an informal alliance known as the “Quad,” which the new US administration sees it as a bulwark against China. in the Indo-Pacific.
The United States accused China of “destabilizing” the region with the construction of man-made islands, as well as naval and air installations in the South China Sea.
Japan has long said it feels threatened by China’s vast military resources and territorial disputes.
Joe Biden meets the Japanese Prime Minister at his first face-to-face summit with a foreign leader. Here’s why it’s important 👇 https://t.co/MxSgpASJn8
– Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) April 16, 2021
He is particularly concerned about Chinese activity after the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, which Beijing claims and calls the Diaoyu.
Washington has reiterated in recent months that the US-Japan security treaty covers the disputed islands.
China claims most of the South China Sea, citing its so-called “nine-dash line” to justify what it said are historic rights to the main trade waterway.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan are all vying for parts of China’s declared territory in the sea.
An international court in The Hague in 2016 struck down China’s claims in the South China Sea in a first-ever ruling, also saying Chinese claims activity in the Spratly Islands was illegal. Beijing rejected the decision.