April 30 (UPI) -- Officers of Japan's maritime self-defense forces took part in the opening ceremony of a combined maritime security exercise that includes the United States.
Four Japanese officers took part in the opening ceremony held in Busan, South Korea's second-largest city, South Korea's navy said Tuesday, according to Yonhap. The participation marks the first time Japanese military officers are taking part in a Korea-related training event.
The ceremony was organized by a subcommittee under the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus, or ADMM-Plus, a defense dialogue apparatus.
The drills include training for rescuing ships hijacked by armed groups. They involve the navies of Brunei, China, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and the United States.
The two-part training is to take place in Busan and Singapore. South Korea-based exercises are going on this week and the training moves to Singapore in mid-May.
Japan is expected to take part in the Singapore exercises, but may have declined participation in the training taking place this week in Busan.
Japan has accused South Korea of locking fire-control radar on a Japanese patrol aircraft; Seoul has denied the claims.
Japan's absence in the Korea leg of the exercise comes at a time when defense officials from Seoul, Tokyo and Washington are expected to meet soon in Korea for annual trilateral dialogue, according to the Korea Herald.
The meeting will likely address the radar dispute, as well as North Korea nuclear weapons and missile programs, the report states.
Bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea have declined over the radar incident, as well as over historical disputes, including compensation for comfort women and for forced Korean laborers during World War II.