The first joint drill among Japan, France and US troops on Japanese soil began this last week – it was dubbed ARC21 (from the name Jeanne d’Arc or Joan of Arc). It was held due to the growing aggressiveness of China, which has sent ever-growing numbers of aircraft and ships near the small Island of Taiwan, as well as threatening Japan in regional seas. Troops from the 3rd Marine Logistics Group participated with Japanese and French forces. Australia also sent 11 of their Navy warships.
Japanese soldiers and their counterparts from the French Army and the U.S. Marine Corps also conducted an urban warfare drill using a concrete building elsewhere at the Japanese Self-Defense Force’s Kirishima Training Area in the southern Miyazaki prefecture. Around 200 troops took part in Saturday’s exercises.
On Saturday, the three countries were also joined by Australia in an expanded naval exercise involving 11 warships in the East China Sea, where tensions with China are rising around the island of Taiwan.
The drills come as Japan looks to bolster its military capabilities amid a deepening territorial row with China in regional seas. Japan is increasingly concerned about Chinese activity in and around Japanese-claimed waters surrounding the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which Beijing also claims and calls Diaoyu.
Military exercises are often held between the US and Japan, sometimes also with Australia. French participation in ARC21 was welcomed by Japan. There are French interests in the region with islands in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.
“It was a valuable opportunity for the Japanese Self-Defense Force to maintain and strengthen its strategic capability necessary to defend our remote islands. Together we were able to show to the rest of the world our commitment in defending Japanese land, territorial seas and airspace.”
Vice Defense Minister Yasuhide Nakayama
Several other nations have recognized the Chinese aggression. Britain is sending the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and its strike group, which is due to arrive later this year. Germany is also planning to send a frigate to the region. An informal pact called “The Quad” (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) consists of India, Australia, Japan, and the US, and promotes open and free movement in the Indo-Pacific arena.
Featured Screenshot: San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans (LPD 18), joined by the Royal Australian Navy’s Anzac-class frigate HMAS Parramatta (FFH 154), the French Navy’s amphibious assault helicopter carrier FS Tonnerre (L9014), and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Ōsumi class tank landing ship JS Ōsumi, transit together during exercise Jeanne D’Arc 21 (ARC-21), off the coast of Kagoshima, Japan, May 14, 2021. (Lance Cpl. Justin J. Marty/Marine Corps)
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Author: Faye Higbee
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