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Japan and the US have decided to intensify military and defense cooperation at a very sensitive time for the region. The decision was first reported on in the Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun. The news comes as relations between China and Japan have been severely strained due to the territory dispute over Diaoyu Islands.
According to the paper, Japan and the United States will undertake a joint military exercise in the western Pacific starting Tuesday, which will run through September 26th. Forty of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force personnel will take part in the exercise with US Marines stationed in Okinawa. The troops will travel 2,000 kilometers on a US naval vessel to Tinian Island, off the coast of the Northern Marianas. They will use boats and helicopters in their joint landing drill.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei Weekly says the Japanese government plans to use unmanned scout planes to conduct the mission of monitoring the Chinese navy in the area.
The Diaoyu Islands have been Chinese territory since the Ming Dynasty, although they were occupied by Japan during the 1894 to 1895 Sino-Japanese war until its defeat at the end of World War Two.
But they were not returned to China, its rightful owner, and were wrongly assigned to the then U.S.-controlled Ryukyu zone under an illegal treaty signed between Tokyo and Washington in 1951. This treaty has never been recognized by the Chinese government.