July 27 (UPI) — The air forces of France and Japan held their first-ever joint exercises with their pilots on Thursday in the Pacific Ocean with officials saying they have a joint interest in the region.
French Air and Space Force officials joined leaders from Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force at the Nyuthabaru Air Base in the Miyazaki Prefecture in Southwest Japan for the exercises.
“France is a special partner that shares a common philosophy with us, and its dispatch of fighter jets displays its commitment to the Indo-Pacific region,” said Gen. Hiroaki Uchikura, chief of staff of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force.
Japan provided three F-15 and two F-2 fighters while France was represented by two Rafale fighters for the exercise, which will run through Saturday. The exercises follow up similar exercises Japan has held with Germany and India last year. Japan is also hosting Italy and Australia in the future.
Last December, Japan enshrined military changes in the security documents, moving the country away from its pacifist stance since the end of World War II, allowing it to take more aggressive steps to hit enemy bases and command-and-control nodes with longer-range standoff missiles.
In April, the United States, South Korea and Japan held a trilateral naval missile defense exercise in international waters between Korea and Japan days after North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile.