Reuters, 26 May 2015. Japan to join U.S., Australia war games amid growing China tensions, by Matt Siegel.

An edited extract of the original article is reproduced below.

Japan will join a major U.S.-Australian military exercise for the first time in a sign of growing security links between the three countries as tensions fester over China’s island building in the South China Sea.

While only 40 Japanese officers and soldiers will take part in drills involving 30,000 U.S. and Australian troops in early July, experts said the move showed how Washington wanted to foster cooperation among its security allies in Asia.

The Talisman Sabre biennial exercises, to be held in locations around Australia, will encompass maritime operations, amphibious landings, special forces tactics and urban warfare…

All three nations have said they were concerned about freedom of movement through the seas and air in the disputed South China Sea, where China is creating seven artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago, a vital shipping corridor…

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani rebuffed suggestions the exercises were aimed at China, telling Reuters that Japan simply wanted to improve military cooperation with the United States and Australia…

Security cooperation between Canberra and Tokyo has already flourished under Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Shinzo Abe, with Japan seen as the frontrunner to win a contract to supply next generation submarines to the Australian navy. U.S. commanders have publicly supported such a tie-up…

Winning the submarine deal would be a big boost for Japan’s defense industry and potentially pave the way for the sale of advanced Japanese weapons to countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam, which are at loggerheads with Beijing over the South China Sea, experts have said.

Australia also hopes to sign a deal with Japan this year that would smooth the passage of military personnel into one another’s country for joint exercises, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported over the weekend…

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