The Maritime Self-Defense Force's Izumo helicopter carrier has joined the United States' sole forward-deployed aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, in joint military exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the MSDF and U.S. 7th Fleet said in separate statements Wednesday.

The drills, which included joint combat training in the waters and airspace of the South China Sea, kicked off on Monday and were due to wrap up Wednesday, the Japanese Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The joint exercises, which were the latest in a spate of multilateral drills in the waters, are likely to be interpreted in Beijing as pushback over China's moves to extend it's naval reach further into the Pacific.