In a three day exercise in the Sea of Japan, the U.S. and Japan strike groups have joined together in a show of force for drills.
“The Ronald Reagan and Carl Vinson Strike Groups were joined by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF) for routine training to improve interoperability and readiness in the Indo-Asia Pacific.”~US 7th Fleet
The drills include the ‘USS Carl Vinson’ and ‘USS Ronald Reagan’ Strike groups as well as Japanese destroyers ‘Hyuga’ and ‘Ashigara’ for the training maneuvers.
According to the Japanese military press release, “It’s the first time we have exercised with two carriers. It’s a major exercise for us,”
During the drills US Navy F-18 fighters and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-15s are taking part in a simulated combat drills as well.
The drills come 3 days after North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch which landed 186 miles off the Japanese coast and in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
As tensions escalate Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe released last month a guide titled ‘Protecting Ourselves Against Armed Attacks and Terrorism’. It included telling citizens they could expect a 10-minute warning if a missile were headed for Japan.
Japan’s National Security Council has been discussing how to evacuate its 60,000 citizens from South Korea in the event of a crisis, and how to handle a potential flood of North Korean refugees heading into the country.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised the Trump administration’s tough stance on North Korea as he warned of growing threats from the rogue nation on Monday.
“President Trump says all options are on the table. He is demonstrating this position both by words and by action. We regard this highly,” he said.
“We would like to resort to diplomatic and peaceful means in resolving this situation and I think on this point, the U.S. and Japan share the same views. However, we are not pursuing dialogue for the sake of dialogue. We must firmly and solidly stand upon the principle of action for action.”
Should North Korea continue with nuclear tests, Japan will seek additional sanctions through fresh United Nations Security Council resolutions, Abe said.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said there was a “high possibility” of conflict with North Korea, which is pressing ahead with nuclear and missile programs it says it needs to counter U.S. aggression.
It conducted its latest ballistic missile launch, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, on Monday which it said was a test of its capability to carry a “large-size heavy nuclear warhead”, drawing Security Council condemnation.
He also said the North’s nuclear and missile capabilities seem to have advanced rapidly recently but that the South was ready and capable of striking back should the North attack.
North Korea continues to ignore international law and sanctions placed against them as they continue to strive forward with it’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.