Yomiuri took up remarks made by a senior MOFA official at the Diet yesterday underscoring the importance of allowing the U.S. military to continue using two of the Senkaku Islands for training. MOFA North American Affairs Bureau Deputy Assistant Minister Arima said the provision of the bombing ranges for use by the U.S. military was necessary for its achieving its goals under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. The daily added that the U.S. military apparently has not conducted drills on the two outcrops since June 1978.
In a related story, Mainichi wrote that arrangements are being made for the U.S. military and the SDF to conduct later this year a large-scale joint exercise around the Senkakus based on the scenario of the occupation of the outcrops by foreign troops. All branches of the two armed forces except the U.S. Army are likely to take part in the drill aimed at simulating coordinated operations to recapture the islands, with the ultimate goal of dissuading China from escalating provocations in the vicinity. The daily added that Defense Minister Kishi may visit Washington as soon as early May for talks with Secretary Austin to work out the training details and confirm stronger defense cooperation.