The maritime region of the South China Sea is a subject of dispute between Japan and China, with Tokyo administering the area of the Senkaku Islands, but Beijing and Taiwan – as the two share rising tensions – also claiming the territory.
According to six unnamed people cited in the report, American and Japanese military officials started “serious planning” for a possible conflict during the final year of Donald Trump’s presidency. Alongside the planning, Washington and Tokyo reportedly conducted “top-secret tabletop war games and joint exercises in the South China and East China seas”.
Several officials cited by FT said that the joint exercises in the South China Sea between the allies had been couched as “disaster relief training”, as more drills were held in the area around the Senkaku Islands to prepare for a conflict with Beijing over Taiwan, located some 350 kilometres to the west.
According to the report, US and Japanese officials are examining legal issues related to the joint drills, among them access to bases and logistical support that could be provided by Tokyo in the event of a conflict. Particularly, evaluating the possibility of Japan being involved in such a conflict, the report pointed at how Washington would rely on air bases in Japan.
One official observed that the US…