The Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military began a joint rescue drill off the coast of Aomori Prefecture on Wednesday as part of a biennial exercise aimed at enhancing their readiness and partnership.
Based on the scenario of an aircraft accident, U.S. forces will practice rescuing people from the Pacific off the city of Misawa, Aomori Prefecture, which hosts the Misawa Air Base shared by American and Japanese forces.
After the rescued people are moved to safety, the Air Self-Defense Force will airlift them by helicopter to the base, where the U.S. military will be on standby.
The exercise, dubbed “Keen Sword,” began Monday and runs through Nov. 8 with about 47,000 Japanese personnel and about 9,500 U.S. troops participating.
“Keen Sword will give U.S. and Japanese forces an opportunity to practice critical air, maritime and amphibious capabilities essential for Japan’s defense and for regional security,” said Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, in a statement Monday.
In January, Japan deployed its first F-35A stealth fighter at the Misawa base to respond to airspace incursions and engage in surveillance operations aimed at North Korea.