The United States and Japan have continued with the biggest combat readiness exercise ever staged in and around Japan.
The nuclear powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier joined Japanese destroyers on Saturday to take part in Keen Sword, a joint military exercise aimed to increase combat readiness and interoperability between the two forces.
The biennial exercise, which kicked off on Wednesday and runs until November 9 and includes a total of 57,000 personnel, involves all three branches of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, as well as the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
"Keen Sword will give U.S. and Japanese forces an opportunity to practice critical air, maritime and amphibious capabilities essential for Japan’s defense and for regional security," claimed Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, commander of US Forces Japan.
Martinez said the exercise is a show of US-Japan joint force in the regional waters. "Just as important, the exercise is a visible demonstration of the strength and durability of the US-Japan alliance and our shared pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific region."
A Canadian naval supply ship is also taking part in the drill.
Canadian participation is taking a bilateral drill “into the realm of multilateral exercises,” Canada’s defense attache in Japan, Captain Hugues Canuel said in Tokyo.
Participation in the event, launched for the first time in 1986, reflects the Canadian government goal to extend its military presence in Asian waters, he added.
Analysts predict that the US and its allies were preparing for a major military confrontation with China.
The US reportedly wants to stop what it sees as China’s military expansion in the East and South China Seas.
China has repeatedly warned the US against extending it military presence in Asia, describing US military presence as a source of regional instability.