Japanese troops will head to Southern California over the next two weeks to train with U.S. marines.
The exercises, which will be led by U.S. marines, are aimed at helping defend Japanese territory, reported The Associated Press. They are also useful to respond to natural disasters and crises.
The move will likely anger the Chinese regime amid tensions between Beijing and Tokyo over the past year over a chain of islands in the East China Sea. The tensions have caused both political and economic problems for both countries.
Japan has sent three warships, 730 Maritime Self-Defense Force soldiers, 250 ground soldiers, and seven combat helicopters to partake in the drill, reported the Wall Street Journal.
The joint exercises will take place with U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton in California.
Col. Grant Newsham, a U.S. Marine liason officer to the Japanese military, said that “sailing across the Pacific Ocean to southern California to train with each other and with the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy in a much more complex amphibious exercise … is unprecedented,” according to the Journal.
He said the two will practice skills needed to defend Japanese territory.
“If the 20th century taught us anything, it is that when democracies are able and willing to defend themselves it preserves peace and stability,” Newsham told AP. “Most Asian countries welcome—even if quietly stated—a more capable (Japanese force) that is also closely allied to U.S. forces.”