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Iran Press TV

Japan, France, US set to hold joint war games in May as 'message' to China

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 06 December 2020 10:28 AM

Japan, France, and the United States are reportedly set to hold joint military drills for the first time in May next year, as part of attempts to contain what is claimed as China's growing influence in the Asia Pacific region.

Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported on Sunday that the exercises — conducted on land and sea on one of Japan's uninhabited outlying islands -- would focus on providing relief efforts during a natural disaster, but some parts could also form the basis for a defense against attack.

The paper said the joint drills aim to counter China, which claims Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

The Diaoyu Islands, which are known as the Senkaku in Japan, are at the center of a festering row between Tokyo and Beijing.

China maintains that it has indisputable sovereignty over the islands, but the Japanese government regards them as part of its territory.

France pointed to its military cooperation with Japan and said the war games were meant to send a "message" to Beijing.

"We want to demonstrate our presence to the region and send a message about Japan-France cooperation," Admiral Pierre Vandier, chief of staff of the French navy, told Sankei in a separate interview.

"This is a message aimed at China. This is a message about multi-lateral partnerships and the freedom of passage."

The drills come as the US attempts to create a formalized military alliance and a united front against China, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging Japan, India, and Australia in October to team up with Washington to create such an alliance.

The United States routinely sends warships and warplanes to waters that regional countries dispute with China, claiming the deployments are meant to protect its right to "freedom of navigation."

The United States' relations with China have grown increasingly tense under the US President Donald Trump administration. Washington has clashed with Beijing over trade, the South China Sea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the coronavirus pandemic.

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