TOKYO, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The United States and Japan showed off their naval prowess during a review ceremony Sunday in Tokyo Harbor amid regional territorial disputes with China.
USA Today reports two aircraft carriers, the American USS Ronald Reagan and the Japanese JS Izumo, were among 36 warships and dozens of aircraft that were reviewed by Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force in a ceremony held every three years.
This year's review came amid rising tensions involving territorial disputes between China and several of its neighbors over the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea.
Earlier this month, U.S. officials said they were considering maritime patrols within the 12-nautical-mile limit of the Spratly Islands, which are claimed in part or in whole by multiple countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, and China, which has been adding to the size of the islands by dredging up sand from the ocean floor.
U.S. officials accuse Beijing of building military facilities on the islands to defend their claim. Chinese officials deny the charge, insisting on the legality of their reclamation project, which they say is to meant to aid maritime shipping.
"Make no mistake, the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do around the world, and the South China Sea will not be an exception," U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said last week, adding, "We will do that in the time and places of our choosing."
Carter's promise evoked a sharp response from Chinese officials, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying Beijing "will never allow any country to violate China's territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly Islands, in the name of protecting freedom of navigation and overflight."
For its part, Japan supports U.S. demands that China halt its reclamation program, but Tokyo has its own dispute with Beijing involving an uninhabited chain of islands north of Taiwan, where in 2013 China declared an air defense zone technically giving it control over aviation in the East China Sea.
The naval review comes after Japanese parliament passed a measure last month allowing its military to fight overseas for the first time since World War II in assistance of allies such as the United States.