Thousands of American and Japanese naval personnel are taking part in joint maritime exercises which kicked off on Thursday, 16 November, shortly after US President Donald Trump wrapped up his Asia visit amid continuing tensions over North Korea.
The US routinely conducts naval, aerial and ground exercises with its allies South Korea and Japan as a show of force against North Korea. Pyongyang bristles at the drills often claiming that they are rehearsals by the US for an actual attack.
More than 14,000 US Navy personnel are participating in the 10-day exercise, one of the biggest in the recent past. The war games began against the backdrop of three US aircraft carriers – the USS Nimitz, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt – sailing simultaneously in the region in an unprecedented show of force.
Washington said the drill "is designed to increase the defensive readiness and interoperability of Japanese and American forces through training in air and sea operations. The exercise follows more than a week of scenario-based training ashore."
Japanese ships will sail alongside Washington's aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, guided-missile destroyers USS Stethem, USS Chafee and USS Mustin in the southern Japan waters.
In the past, the North has threatened to attack US forces when such drills are held. The North is yet to make any specific comment on the current US-Japan exercises.
Though the Trump administration has been beefing up its military presence in its attempts to intimidate the Kim Jong-un regime, the North has shown no signs of scaling back any of its missile or nuclear activities. Reports about the possibility of yet another nuclear test have also surfaced recently, raising tensions.