In a show of force against North Korean threats, the Japanese Navy is reportedly planning joint naval drills with US Navy's Carl Vinson carrier strike group in the East China Sea – a move that could anger China.
The plans include helicopter landing exercises between the USS Carl Vinson and Japanese vessels as well as communication drills, two sources with knowledge of the plans told Reuters.
The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (MSDF) may dispatch several destroyers to conduct the drills with the US vessel while it passes through Japanese waters in the East China Sea.
However, there are fears that the show-of-force exercise could irk Beijing, primarily because of the location of the drills – the East China Sea. Beijing and Tokyo are locked in a years' long territorial dispute over some islets in the waters located close to Taiwan.
The exercise could also further provoke North Korea, which has already warned the Donald Trump administration on Tuesday (11 April) of a nuclear attack if threatened by war. The US president, who wants China to do more to deter the reclusive North Korean regime from pursuing nuclear goals, has responded by saying that Pyongyang was "looking for trouble" and the US would "solve the problem" with or without Beijing's help.
Tensions between North Korea and its adversaries – South Korea, Japan and the US – have also escalated because of speculations that the Kim Jong-un regime is set to conduct a sixth nuclear test anytime soon.
There are also fears that the country is also gearing up for an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar, possibly as soon as Saturday – what would have been the 105th birthday of North Korean founding president Kim Il-sung.