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.