Japan to Join U.S. in Valiant Shield Exercise, China Continues Military Drills Near Taiwan

May 24, 2024 12:40 PM
Sailors watch as the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) sails alongside amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7) prior to a photo exercise for Valiant Shield 2022 on June 12, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Japan Self-Defense Forces will participate for the first time in the U.S. military’s Valiant Shield exercise, with part of the exercise taking place in Japan, said Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara on Friday. Meanwhile, China continues its Joint Sword-2024A exercise around Taiwan, which is scheduled to wrap up on Friday.
The exercise runs from June 7 to 18 and includes various tactical training exercises, mainly in the maritime airspace around Japan and at JSDF facilities, including Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Hachinohe Air Base, Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Matsushima Air Base, and Iwo Jima. “As the security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe, I believe it is highly significant for the Self-Defense Forces to participate in this exercise to strengthen our joint operational capabilities and the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance, as well as to expand our partnership with like-minded countries,” said Kihara.

In a Friday release, the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of Japan’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) said that Valiant Shield 2024 would take place mainly in five areas; JSDF facilities, U.S. military facilities and areas in Japan, the sea and airspace surrounding Japan, the sea area extending from Japan to the Philippines, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii and Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and the sea and airspace surrounding the Northern Mariana Islands and Palau. The JSO also stated that multiple “like-minded” countries would participate in the exercise but the participation would be in areas outside of Japan.

Valiant Shield is a multinational, biennial field training exercise (FTX) with a focus on integrating joint training among U.S. and partner-nations forces in relation to current operational plans, and normally takes place around Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and Palau. The U.S. military will perform a live-fire test of its prototype for a joint-fires network during this year’s iteration of the exercise.

Graphic of a People’s Liberation Army costal rocket forces as part of the Joint Sword-2024A exercise. PLA Graphic

During the press conference, Kihara was asked about China’s Joint Sword-2024A exercise around Taiwan but declined to comment specifically on the exercise, though he stated the MOD was watching developments there “with great interest” and will take all possible measures to conduct surveillance activities in the sea and airspace surrounding Japan. He reiterated that Japan’s consistent position is that it expects the issues surrounding Taiwan to be resolved peacefully through dialogue.

In a video press reply on Friday to questions on the Joint Sword-2024A exercise, China Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Snr. Col. Wu Qian stated that the Eastern Theater Command of the PLA organized its army, navy, air force, rocket force and other forces to conduct joint exercises around Taiwan to test the troops’ actual combat capabilities, “this action is aimed at combating the arrogance of ‘Taiwan independence’ and deterring external interference and intervention,” said Wu.

Wu condemned Taiwan President Lai Ching-te, saying that Lai, as soon as he took office, seriously challenged the one-China principle, blatantly sold the two-state theory, and attempted to seek independence through force and through foreign forces and pushed Taiwan compatriots into a dangerous situation of war. “This is completely playing with fire, and those who play with fire will get burned,” he warned.

He reiterated that Taiwan was part of China and the resolution of the Taiwan issue was for the people of China, and that the PLA defends national sovereignty and territorial integrity with practical actions. “Every time ‘Taiwan independence’ provokes, our countermeasures will be pushed forward until the complete reunification of the motherland is achieved.” concluded Wu.

China’s Eastern Theatre Command only issued a brief release on the exercise on Friday, with the command’s spokesperson, Senior Colonel Li Xi, stating they continued to carry out training in subjects outlined by Qian in his video release. The command also released a 3-D animation video showing PLA ground, sea and air platforms conducting a mass simultaneous missile strike on Taiwan, and images of troops and platforms participating in the exercise.

On Friday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) stated that from 6 a.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday, 49 PLA aircraft, 19 People’s Liberation Army Navy ships and 7 China Coast Guard ships have been detected around Taiwan, and 35 of the aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered Taiwan’s southwestern air Defence identification zone (ADIZ). The MND also stated that Taiwan’s military monitored the situation and responded accordingly, and posted a short video to social media reiterating its military’s determination to protect Taiwan from China.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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