Thousands of Japanese and American forces, including those from the space contingent, began joint military exercises in Japan on Thursday.
The military exercises, referred to as "Keen Sword," will include 26,000 personnel from the Japanese ground, maritime, and air forces besides around 10,000 American soldiers, including those from US Space Force.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said the large-scale joint military exercises, conducted every two years, will mainly be held around the country’s southwestern islands, including Tokunoshima Island, in the southwestern Kagoshima province “in an effort to boost their operational capability in those areas.”
The military activities are being held “with China's intensifying military activities in mind,” Tokyo-based Kyodo News reported.
About 30 vessels and 370 aircraft from Japan and the US are participating in the military drills. Four warships and two airplanes from Australia, Canada, and the UK will also join the drills.
The US has increased its military activities in the wider Asia-Pacific region along with its allies in the recent past which also saw North Korea launching dozens of projectiles and missiles, including ballistic as well as inter-continental ones.
The latest military exercises between Japan and the US are expected to conclude on Nov. 19.
There is a security pact between Japan and the US under which around 50,000 American soldiers are deployed in Japan.
The two countries are also part of a Washington-led loose security group Quad, which aims to check the expanding influence of China in the region.
“The exercises are aimed at strengthening the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the US forces in dealing with contingencies, as they oppose any unilateral attempts to alter the status quo by force,” said the Japanese ministry.
The exercises will also involve response to ballistic missiles, as well as operations in new defense areas such as outer space and cyberspace, the ministry added.