PALAWAN, Philippines, June 18 (UPI) -- The Philippines will host war games with Japan and the United States as expansionist movements by China create tension in the region.
China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim the entire area of the South China Sea, with the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia claiming exclusive economic zones in the same area, as well as parts of the Spratly Archipelago. Despite complaints lodged against China before the United Nations, China has refused to participate in international arbitration over the matter.
The annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training is separate from the Balikatan 2015 games that the Philippines held with the United States earlier this year.
Philippine Navy public affairs officer Lt. Liezl Vidallon told the Manila Bulletin that the games – held between the United States and the Philippines since 1998 - will increase interoperability between the naval forces of the two countries, with sailors engaging in gunnery exercises, helicopter crash and salvage drills, weapon system training and more.
The event is set to take place Thursday through June 30 near the island province of Palawan, with the formal opening ceremony on June 22 at Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoni.
Japan's Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) will join the games June 22-25, with a Japanese P-3C maritime surveillance plane participating in a simulated war exercise with a Philippine warship and helicopter. The two forces will also engage in exercises related to search-and-rescue missions, maritime operations, humanitarian assistance and more.
News of Japan's involvement come after the conclusion of an agreement between Philippine and Japanese governments that will allow Japan to export defense equipment to the Philippines and allow Japenese access to Philippine military bases.