The islands are the subject of a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing.
The US Military Command in Japan allows the transfer of soldiers to defend the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands, which are under Japanese control and are the subject of a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing. This was announced by Lieutenant General Kevin Schneider, Commander of the US Military Contingent in Japan, in connection with the joint exercise which began on Monday.
“The Japanese-American operational capability makes it possible to move units to defend the Senkaku Islands”, – he said on Tuesday on public television in Japan.
On the eve, Japanese Self-Defense Forces and US military personnel began a major joint exercise codenamed Keen Sword 21. The manoeuvres will take place at military facilities on the mainland of Japan, in the area of the southern Okinawa Prefecture and adjacent territorial waters with the participation of more than 45 thousand people. The manoeuvres will also involve ships that are part of the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier group, about 100 aircraft and CV-22 Osprey convertible planes designed for special operations, including in low visibility conditions and at night.
The situation around the Senkaku Islands escalated again this month, with Chinese patrol ships in close proximity for a record period of over 57 hours from 11-13 October. They ignored the Japanese watchmen’s demands to leave the Senkaku area and once in Tokyo they even took a dangerous manoeuvre to get close to a Japanese fishing vessel.
China considers these islands to be its illegally occupied territories and is demanding their return. The territorial dispute over the uninhabited Senkaku archipelago in the East China Sea escalated after Tokyo announced in September 2012 that it had purchased the islands from their private owners, Japanese citizens. This was followed by mass anti-Japanese demonstrations and pogroms in China. Since then, Chinese ships have been plying in the vicinity of the disputed islands and have made occasional demonstration visits to their coastal zone. In September 2012, they have been there continuously for 39 hours.