Japan, the US, Australia and the Philippines have held joint naval drills in the South China Sea, the Japanese Defense Ministry said Friday, amid China’s continuous attempts to obstruct Manila’s supply activities at military footholds in the water, Azernews reports, citing the Japan Times.
The four countries’ training comes after a Chinese coast guard vessel shot a water cannon at a Philippine military-chartered boat near the Manila-controlled Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea early this month.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s largest destroyer, Izumo, and destroyer Samidare took part in the drills, the ministry said.
The two Japanese vessels will dock at the Manila port from Friday through next Thursday, according to the ministry. Izumo is set to become a de facto aircraft carrier after undergoing additional renovations slated to begin next year or 2025.
The US Navy’s littoral combat ship Mobile, Australia’s amphibious assault ship Canberra, frigate Anzac and F-35A fighter jets, and the Philippine Navy’s landing ship Davao Del Sur were the others involved in the exercises, the ministry said.
The ministry said in a statement that the purpose of the training is to “strengthen collaboration toward the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a Tokyo-promoted concept widely seen as countering Beijing’s rising clout in the region.