The United States and South Korea have started joint naval drills that will involve three USA aircraft carriers in what military officials describe as a clear warning to North Korea.
The Japanese ships Ise, Inazuma and Makinami will sail with the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Sea of Japan and East China Sea on Sunday, Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force said in a press release. Mobilizing three aircraft carriers for a single exercise is also rare for the USA military as well.
The exercise is seen as a show of force amid North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threats, and comes amid U.S. President Donald Trump's Asian tour.
"This drill is aimed at enhancing the ability to fulfill extended deterrence, based on the ROK - U.S. alliance, to deter North Korea's nuclear provocations", according to the JCS.
The allies will also show off their readiness to mount a strong retaliation with overwhelming firepower in the event of an emergency, the JCS said.
"#Japan says it'll send one of its big helicopter carriers to join three USA aircraft carriers for exercises in waters close to #Korea peninsula", VOA Correspondent Steve Herman tweeted. The 100,000 ton USA carriers transport a total of about 200 aircraft, including F-18 combat jets.
The last such exercise took place in 2007 in waters off the United States territory of Guam.
"It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three", U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift said on Tuesday.
Trump on Tuesday reiterated his goal to achieve what he called "peace through strength", warning the USA could use "the full range of our unmatched military capabilities" against Pyongyang.