The two-day military exercise involving Japan’s self-defense forces, coast guard, and police was conducted in late November on a remote uninhabited island. According to Kyodo news agency, citing unnamed Japanese government sources, the island was chosen specifically because its landscape closely resembles that of the disputed Senkaku Islands, which have long been a bone of contention between Japan and China. However, Tokyo decided not to hold the military exercise on the Senkaku Islands, choosing an alternative location instead.
The drills were reportedly based on the premise that “foreign forces” had occupied the disputed islands in the East China Sea. Officials in Tokyo, however, stopped short of naming China or any other particular nation as being likely to carry out such an ‘invasion’.
The exercise featured landing operations from helicopters and boats and involved approximately 400 personnel, as was revealed by Japanese authorities. The drills’ main goal was to improve interoperability between various parts of the Japanese armed and security forces.
The Senkaku Islands are located northeast of Taiwan, with Beijing claiming it was first to discover and own the uninhabited territory back in the 14th century. The Diaoyu Islands, as they are known in mainland China, eventually fell to Japan in the late 19th century.
China’s coast guard vessels have come in the immediate vicinity of the islands on multiple occasions over the past several years – which Japan sees as acts of deliberate provocation.
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