US, South Korea, and Japan Hold Join Exercise in East China Sea

A US carrier strike group held a joint military exercise with South Korea and Japan earlier this month as President Biden held talks in Washington with the leaders of Japan and the Philippines, the Associated Press reported.

The military and diplomatic efforts were aimed at strengthening the solidarity of the United States and its Indo-Pacific partners in the face of increased military actions on the part of China and North Korea.

The exercises, led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt and featuring a Japanese warship and US and South Korean destroyers, took place in the disputed territories of the East China Sea, which China claims as its own.

Carrier Strike Group Nine commander Rear Adm. Christopher Alexander said the exercises included drills in undersea warfare, search and rescue, and maritime interdiction.

Alexander told reporters that the drills would improve communications between the US and its Indo-Pacific allies to better prepare them for a potential crisis in the region.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on April 12 that its director-general of Asian affairs expressed “serious concern and strong dissatisfaction” to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing over Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to the White House with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Beijing earlier accused the United States and Japan of slandering China and urged the two countries to stop undermining the region’s peace and stability.

The military exercises indicated a sign of improving relations between South Korea and Japan. The relationship between the two countries has at times been strained, due in part to Japan’s previous colonization of the Korean Peninsula. In the face of increased threats from both China and North Korea, Washington has been urging further cooperation between the two countries.

The exercises focused on bolstering the joint response capability against possible threats from North Korea, including anti-submarine drills and training on maritime interdiction, according to the South Korean Navy.