Japan, US Conduct First Anti-Submarine Warfare Exercise in South China Sea

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the United States Navy have held their first-ever joint anti-submarine warfare exercise in the South China Sea, stepping up their capabilities in the disputed sea where China claims sovereignty to almost all parts of it.

Two of JMSDF’s destroyers, JS Kaga and JS Murasame, a P-1 maritime patrol aircraft and an unnamed submarine, participated in the joint drill with the U.S. Navy’s USS Milius and a P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, according to the MSDF announcement on Nov. 16.

This marks the first time a JSMDF submarine has engaged in an anti-submarine warfare drill with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea, indicating “a high level of interoperability between Japan and the United State,” MSDF Chief of Staff Hiroshi Yamamura said at a press briefing on the same day. (Asahi)

“It also represents the deterrence and response capability of the MSDF and the U.S. Navy,” he remarked.

The three destroyers had also participated in another drill in the South China Sea last week.

The JSMDF destroyers, Kaga and Murasame, also made a port call in Subic, Philippines, over the weekend before taking part in a joint drill with the Philippine Navy frigate BRP Jose Rizal in the disputed sea.

The drills came as Japan intensified its pressure on Beijing over its claims to vast swaths of the South China Sea, despite China’s warnings to Japan and the United States to avoid interfering in the nation’s internal affairs and building a clique against it.

“China has no problem with the development of normal bilateral ties between the United Ststes and Japan, but this relationship should be conducive to enhancing mutual understanding and trust among regional countries and peace and stability in the Asia Pacific, and should not target any third party or undermine third party interests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily news briefing on Apr. 16.

China has been increasing its presence in the South China Sea by turning the islands into military bases, and thus forcing other nations like Japan, the United States, Britain, Canada, and France to deploy vessels to keep Beijing in check. (Asia Times)

The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague dismissed Beijing’s claims to much of the South China Sea in 2016, in favor of the Philippines and other nations in the region. It ruled that China’s claims had no legal basis. (The Epoch Times)

However, the verdict has had little impact on China’s behaviour, with Beijing refusing to abide by it. The resulting territorial disputes are ongoing, with Beijing continuing to pursue its claims to vast swathes of the sea based on its so-called “nine-dash line,” which includes a reef.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam all having competing claims with China.


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