Southeast Asian military officers have embarked on a four-day tour of the South China Sea on the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Izumo helicopter carrier in the latest sign Japan is stepping up efforts to counter growing Chinese influence.

The officers from the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) joined the ship in Singapore on Monday, the Defense Ministry said in an outline of the plan.

Other ASEAN military representatives will attend a separate three-day event from Tuesday in Japan, to observe SDF military disaster relief drills, the ministry said.