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A Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine has conducted joint military drills with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea for the first time — a move analysts say was intended to highlight the two navies' growing capabilities amid China's moves in the region.

The MSDF said in a statement released late Tuesday that the exercise conducted earlier in the day focused on anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and included one of Japan’s largest warships, the Kaga helicopter carrier, as well as a destroyer and a patrol plane, together with a U.S. destroyer and patrol aircraft, in the first such joint drills in the South China Sea.

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