In a First, US & Japan Label China As “Hypothetical Enemy” In Joint Military Exercise

In a combined command post exercise, the U.S. military and Japanese Self-Defense Forces identified China as a hypothetical enemy for the first time, said government sources on Sunday. This occurs amid growing fears that Beijing may eventually invade Taiwan.

The computer simulation exercise, which started on February 1 and will run through Thursday, depicts an emergency scenario in Taiwan. In the past, an enemy was referred to by a provisional name. By Japan’s secrecy laws, the Defence Ministry is thought to have divided the situation as a specially designated secret. Such a move highlights an increased sense of urgency as concerns heighten that China might act on Taiwan in years amid rising geopolitical tensions.

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The director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, mentioned in Feb 2023 that Xi Jinping, China’s President, had instructed that his country’s military be prepared to invade Taiwan by 2027. Japan and the U.S. have multiple joint operation strategies envisioning emergencies, with a draft about Taiwan completed by the end of last year.

The results of the current “Keen Edge” exercise are reflected in the final strategies to be compiled by 2024 year-end, while the troops are likely to perform a live-action demonstration of the drill of “Keen Sword” around 2025 to verify the efficacy.

The countries had earlier utilized maps that differed slightly from the topography of nations to prevent backlash in the event the plans were leaked, even though the current exercise had used unaltered versions.

Joint drills between the U.S. and Japan were initiated in 1986. Usually, every other year, the two nations perform “Keen Sword” and “Keen Edge” exercises. At a press briefing on January 25, Yoshihide Yoshida, Japan’s Defence Ministry Chief of Joint Staff, stated that the exercise had not envisioned any specific nation or region.

Reference: Japan Times

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