August 14, 2015

"Japan has joined U.S.-led maritime humanitarian exercises off the Philippines for the first time, as concerns mount among the three allies about China's growing assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea."

Reuters A Japanese navy replenishment ship was in Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base, to refuel a U.S. Navy floating hospital en route to Vietnam for the seven-nation humanitarian mission. By Manuel Mogato

'It was the first time a Japanese navy ship has taken part in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drills although a flotilla of Japanese training vessels, including a submarine, makes annual port calls in Manila.

'Rear Admiral Charles Williams, commander of U.S. Seventh Fleet's Task Force 73, said humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises were becoming a regular component of military exercises in the Philippines.

'"You are seeing in exercises ... a shift from strictly bilateral engagement to multilateral, which is why you see the Japanese here today," Williams told journalists aboard USNS Mercy, one of two U.S. hospital ships.'

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