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Japanese navy trains with USS Ronald Reagan in East China Sea drills

By Elizabeth Shim
Japanese navy trains with USS Ronald Reagan in East China Sea drills
The USS Ronald Reagan, pictured, took part in bilateral drills in the East China Sea this week, according to a Japanese press report. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Japan's maritime self-defense force is training with the United States Navy in the East China Sea in an exercise involving the USS Ronald Reagan, the nuclear-powered supercarrier stationed in Japan.

The drills occurred from Monday to Wednesday in waters that have recently been at the center of disputes between China and Japan. The Japanese navy deployed the helicopter carrier Izumo near Okinawa and Kyushu, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

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On the final day of exercises, Japan's air self-defense force also sent F-15 fighter jets. According to Kyodo, Japanese authorities held the drills to improve tactical skills and strengthen bilateral cooperation with the United States.

The USS Ronald Reagan will soon sail to South Korea's Jeju Island to train with dozens of South Korean vessels.

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More than 12 countries were set to participate in the South Korean Navy's International Fleet Review, but the Japanese and Chinese navies have declined to attend, owing to controversies over the Rising Sun flag and "domestic reasons."

Japanese public opinion has changed rapidly in recent months following the summits between Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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A NHK survey of nearly 1,300 Japanese this month shows 55 percent favor a summit between Kim and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. They also said the meeting should take place "as soon as possible." Nineteen percent said there's "no rush" for a summit.

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The survey results differ remarkably from a poll by Yomiuri Shimbun in March, in which 43 percent said pressure is more important than dialogue, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Abe has said he's open to a meeting with Kim.

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