TOKYO, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Japan is prepared to dispatch a warship to the South China Sea to monitor Beijing's land reclamation activities.
Vice Adm. Yasuhiro Shigeoka, commander of Japan's Self Defense Fleet, said on Tuesday that the Maritime Self-Defense Force is prepared to enter into patrol activities at any time, and "upon command," the Mainichi Shimbun reported.
The statement comes the same day the United States and Japan said that neither side has plans to launch joint patrols in the South China Sea, even as the two navies conducted a joint training exercise at sea, USA Today reported.
The exercise was held for 10 days and involved 32 U.S. and Japanese warships, along with aircraft -- 25 of the vessels were Japanese and 7 were U.S. warships.
Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan, said the exercises would "enable [the United States and Japan] to help one another because ships can be spread out over the ocean...We think it bodes well for the future, not only for our two countries but for the Western Pacific."
Japanese press reported Aucoin did not have specific plans for a U.S.-Japan patrol of the South China Sea, but a mission could take place in the future.
At a meeting with President Obama in Manila, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged closer cooperation with the United States, Kyodo News reported. Abe had reportedly said he would review the impact of China's activities on Japan's security, and has expressed support for "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea.
Tokyo passed a controversial security bill in September that would allow its military to serve in overseas missions, whenever it or a close ally is attacked.
On Tuesday, opposition party lawmakers with the Democratic Party of Japan agreed to submit a bill in January, requesting the repeal of the security law backed by Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.