Tokyo, Japan. While American, South Korean and Japanese ships try to start World War Three off the Korean penininsular, another contestant shows up to see if they can help provoke a nuclear war; France.

With tensions rolling out of control on the Korean peninsula, a French Navy carrier sailed into Japan’s naval base of Sasebo on Saturday ahead of drills that risk upsetting China, which has a defense treaty with the small nuclear power.

The French carrier Mistral will lead exercises next month near Guam, along with forces from Japan, the United States and Britain, supposedly on a normal everyday mission, with an amazing coincedence of showing up in the middle of a possible run up to WWIII.

Japan and the United States are worried by China’s efforts to extend its influence beyond its coastal waters and the South China Sea by acquiring power-projecting aircraft carriers, a concern shared by France, which controls several Pacific islands, including New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

Chinese military ambitions, however, have been overshadowed in recent weeks by tension on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang conducts missile tests, and prepares for a possible sixth nuclear test.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group to nearby waters, where it will join the USS Michigan, a guided missile submarine that docked in South Korea on Tuesday.

Even as they seek stronger economic ties with China, both France and Britain, which has two navy helicopters aboard the Mistral, are deepening security cooperation with Japan, a close US ally that has Asia’s second-strongest non nuclear navy. For now the scorpions circle each other, but it remains clear that a lot of bit part players are now rushing to the movie as the climax nears.

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