‘Quad’ nations flaunt stronger ties with first drill in 13 years

‘Quad’ nations flaunt stronger ties with first drill in 13 years

China tensions spur cooperation between Japan, US, India and Australia

TOKYO — Japan, the U.S., India and Australia wrapped up their first four-way joint military exercise in more than a decade on Friday, reinforcing the security partnership among the grouping known as the “Quad” amid shared alarm over China’s growing influence in the region.

The annual India-led Malabar exercise, which usually involves Japan and the U.S., was expanded this year to include Australia as well. After this week’s four-day drill — which included a destroyer from Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, a U.S. Navy destroyer and an Australian Defense Force frigate — a second phase will take place later this month in the Arabian Sea.

The exercise included anti-submarine and surface-firing drills as well as at-sea resupply operations.

The exercise was “very successful,” Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters, adding that the event “embodied [the idea of] a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has “been striving to strengthen its partnership with the navies of friendly nations through maritime exercises such as Malabar to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Takahiko Ishidera, commanding officer of the destroyer JS Onami, said ahead of the exercise.