The Guardian, 5 July, 2015. Japan joins US-Australia war games in NT and Queensland amid China dispute.

An edited extract of the original article appears below.

For the first time, Japan is taking part in major US-Australia military exercises as tensions rise with China over islands in the South China Sea.

The US and Australia kicked off a massive joint biennial military exercise on Sunday, with Japan taking part for the first time as tensions with China over territorial rows loom over the drills.

The two-week “Talisman Sabre” exercise in the Northern Territory and Queensland involves 30,000 personnel from the US and Australia practising operations at sea, in the air and on land.

About 40 personnel from Japan’s army – the Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) – will join the American contingent, while more than 500 troops from New Zealand are also involved in the exercise, which concludes on July 21…

The war games, being held for the sixth time, come as China flexes its strategic and economic muscle in the region.

Beijing has been building artificial islands and facilities in disputed waters in the South China Sea, and has a separate territorial dispute with Japan over the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands – which it calls the Diaoyus – in the East China Sea…

Beijing rejected US criticism of its reclamation works in the South China Sea during the annual Shangri-La Dialogue meeting in May, saying it was just exercising its sovereignty.

The US has been pursuing a foreign policy “pivot” towards Asia, which has rattled China, and is rotating Marines through northern Australia – a move announced by President Barack Obama in 2011…

The US’s other allies – such as Singapore, Malaysia, India, Vietnam and the Philippines – would be supportive of the exercise, as well as Australia and Japan’s activities in the region, Lee added.

“Undoubtedly it would be received very well because all the other countries are desperately hoping that America and capable allies can actually work together to counter China,” he said…

 

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