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US, Japan and South Korea Agree to Massive Drills in Increasingly Militarized Asia-Pacific

© AFP 2023 / CAROLINE CHIA(L-R) Japan's Defence Minister Minoru Kihara, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korea's Defence Minister Shin Won-sik attend a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore on June 2, 2024.
(L-R) Japan's Defence Minister Minoru Kihara, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korea's Defence Minister Shin Won-sik attend a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore on June 2, 2024. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.06.2024
The three countries staged their first-ever joint exercises last fall after President Biden and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts signed a trilateral security pact at Camp David in August. Russia, China and North Korea have expressed concerns about US attempts to militarize the Asia-Pacific through a growing spider’s web of security pacts.
The defense ministers of the United States, Japan and South Korea formally agreed to hold the inaugural Freedom Edge military exercises between the three countries at a meeting in Singapore on Sunday.

The multidomain drills, which are expected to include naval, aerial, underwater and cyber exercises, are set to take place sometime in the summer. No further details were provided regarding their timing or possible locations.

The three countries are also planning a separate tabletop exercise to better enable them to react to “threats” on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific region. Details on that drill are also yet to be clarified.
The Freedom Edge drills were agreed on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue – a Singapore-based security forum focused on “emerging threats” in the region.
The defense ministers "affirmed" their countries’ “enduring commitment to strengthen trilateral security cooperation to deter nuclear and missile threats” purportedly posed by Pyongyang, as well as alleged “dangerous and aggressive” Chinese “behavior” in the South China Sea. They also “stressed the importance of the rules-based international order and reaffirmed their commitment to stand with Ukraine,” according to a Pentagon press release.
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“Additionally, they recognized that there is no change in their basic positions on Taiwan and emphasized the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as an indispensable element of security and prosperity in the international community,” the statement added.
Russia and China have yet to comment on the planned trilateral drills. However, senior Chinese military officials made clear Sunday that there are “limits” to Beijing’s patience in the face of US provocations in the region, including in the South China Sea.
“China has maintained sufficient restraint in the face of rights infringements and provocation, but there are limits to this,” Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun told attendees of the Shangri-La Dialogue.
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Separately at the forum, Chinese Joint Central Military Commission Joint Staff Deputy Chief Jing Jianfeng accused Washington of forging security pacts with regional nations to create “an Asia-Pacific version of NATO, to maintain American hegemony.”
This is similar to processes the US has undertaken in Eastern Europe, Jing said. “The US strengthens its military presence to force other countries to choose sides and advances the eastward expansion of NATO,” he said, warning that such actions create chaos and “bind regional countries with the American war chariot.”
Jing characterized the United States as the “greatest challenge to regional peace and stability,” and called Washington’s Indo-Pacific Strategy a document that’s designed to “bring division, provoke confrontation and undermine stability.”
Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, left, sails with South Korean Navy's Aegis destroyer King Sejong the Great and Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyer Kongou in the international waters of the southern coast of Korean peninsular during a recent joint drill in 2024 - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.06.2024
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