Sunday, October 14, 2012

US, Japan mull joint military drill to simulate retaking island: Report

Photo shows members of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force leaving the island of Guam after a joint drill on Sept. 22, 2012, with the U.S. Marine Corps aimed at strengthening their ability to defend remote islands from foreign assault.

Source: Press TV

The United States and Japan are considering a joint military maneuver in which their troops will simulate recapturing an uninhabited island from foreign forces, a report says.

Japan's Kyodo news agency on Saturday quoted unidentified sources in Tokyo as saying that the drill will be carried out in an uninhabited island in Okinawa before the broader joint exercises scheduled to kick off in early November.

The US and Japanese forces would use boats and helicopters to land on the island as a part of the maneuver, the Japanese news agency said.

The drill comes as Japan and China are gridlocked in a dispute over the sovereignty of a chain of islands, known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese, in the East China Sea.

The uninhabited islands which sit on top of valuable resources are currently under Japan's administration but claimed by China and Taiwan, too.

The joint drill will be conducted in the tiny island of Irisunajima, which is in the East China Sea but hundreds of miles away from the disputed islands, the report said.

Trade between the two global economic heavyweights has faltered over the islands row.

The sales of Japanese cars nose dived in China in September with Japan's largest automakers Toyota, Honda and Nissan experiencing drops of 48.9, 40.5 and 35.3 percent respectively compared with the same period in 2011.

As Japan's biggest trading partner, mainland China accounted for 20 percent of Japan's exports in 2011, according to Japan External Trade Organization.

Tensions between Tokyo and Beijing have eased in recent weeks but the US-Japan drill, if it really takes place, would definitely reignite the ashes of antagonism between the two powers.

Japan says its alliance with the United States has served as a deterrent in the territorial dispute although Washington has not adopted an official stance over the issue.

The United States "has been saying that they do not take a position on the sovereignty issue but have always stated that US-Japan security arrangements would cover those islands," said Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan's ambassador to Washington, on Thursday.

"I think that constitutes an important deterrence," he said at the Brookings Institution think tank.

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