The Ground Self-Defense Force has shown the press its Orient Shield 21 joint drills with the U.S. Army, at Camp Amami on the island of Amami-Oshima in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The U.S. Army unit for the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) ground-based missile defense system, was deployed to the island in the southwestern prefecture for the first time.

The two countries highlighted their strong cooperation on Thursday amid operations by Chinese government vessels near the Japanese-controlled, Chinese-claimed Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. China calls the islets the Diaoyu.

In the joint exercises, the PAC-3 unit and the GSDF unit for medium-range surface-to-air missiles conducted training using a simulator.

“It was a good opportunity to show a stronger Japan-U.S. alliance both domestically and internationally,” said GSDF Chief of Staff Gen. Yoshihide Yoshida, who inspected the drills with the commander of the U.S. Army in Japan.

Orient Shield 21, which started on June 24 and is set to run until July 9, is being held at multiple locations in Japan. A total of some 3,000 troops from the GDSF and the U.S. Army are participating, making it one of the largest joint exercises between the two countries.

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