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Japan, U.S. Conduct Military Exercise in Wake of Islands Dispute
November 5, 2012

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American and Japanese forces began a large military drill near Okinawa, removing a key component that could have angered China.

About 37,000 Japanese and 10,000 Americans will take part in the 12-day drill, a twice-yearly affair that in part involves U.S. Navy ships carrying Japanese forces. The drill will be missing an exercise that simulate an amphibious landing on an island. The Japanese government said that that part of the drill would not take place this time because of an ongoing dispute over ownership of a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

The military drill took place against the background over ongoing diplomatic conversations aimed at ending the dispute over the islands, which are known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. HIgh-ranking representatives of the Chinese and Japanese governments met in Shanghai recently and agreed to keep talking but little else.

Japan claimed ownership of the islands a few weeks ago, and the Chinese response has been swift and sharp, in the spheres of diplomacy, economics, and the military. Chinese officials at the highest levels have pressed their country's claim to the islands, which dates to the 14th Century. Protesters against Japan's ownership announcement have numbered in the hundreds of thousands in major Chinese cities. And Chinese consumers have spoken with their money, refusing to buy Japanese cars so much that Japanese car exports to China fell nearly 45 percent in September. Overall, Japanese exports to China few 14 percent in September.

Taiwan has also laid claim to the islands, which have rich deposits of natural gas and minerals and are surrounded by waters rich with marine life. Japan laid claim to all of the islands a few weeks ago, sparking the escalation. Japan's ownership goes back to the early 20th Century. Claims from China (and, by extension, Taiwan) go back centuries.

Japan's claim to full ownership sparked large demonstrations in a few Chinese cities, as well as angry words from the Chinese government and aggressive maneuvers from Chinese ships. Trade between the two countries has suffered as a result.

Japan also announced that from November 5-16, it would have a joint military exercise with American troops. The exercise is a regular, twice yearly, affair.

American and Japanese forces began a large military drill near Okinawa, removing a key component that could have angered China.





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