Japan to conduct naval drills with US, India

Tokyo: Japan is set to conduct naval exercises with the US and India in June in the East China Sea. The joint naval manoeuvres are aimed at strengthening the interoperability of the three countries in maritime security and underline the presence of the allies in the region in the face of expanding Chinese activities, a Japanese government source told state-run Kyodo news agency on Monday. The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (MSDF) will join, for the third straight year, the "Malabar Exercise" which India and the US carried out for the first time in 1992. The MSDF plans to expand its involvement in these joint drills, and also participate in aerial defence and anti-submarine manoeuvers, as well as rescue drills, added the source. Japan and China are embroiled in a dispute over the sovereignty of the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands in the region. The uninhabited Senkaku islands, located in the East China Sea, around 150 km from northeastern Taiwan, have a total surface area of around seven sq.km, and could contain significant marine and energy resources.