The Self-Defense Forces will participate for the first time in joint annual military exercises involving U.S. and Filipino forces in the Philippines from the end of this month to April, Japanese and Filipino diplomatic sources said Saturday.

Australia and South Korea are also expected to take part for the first time in the exercises, called "Balikatan," a Filipino word meaning "shoulder to shoulder."

The multilateralization of the exercise apparently reflects a move by the United States to stand up to China's recent provocations in the South China Sea.