TOKYO, October 27. / TASS /. The US military command in Japan admits the possibility of transferring soldiers to protect the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands, which are under Japanese control and are the subject of a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing. The commander of the US military contingent in Japan, Lieutenant General Kevin Schneider, said this in connection with the joint exercises that began on Monday.
"Japanese-American operational capabilities make it possible to redeploy units to protect the Senkaku Islands," Japanese public television quoted him as saying on Tuesday.
On the eve of the fighters of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the US military began a large joint exercise, code-named Keen Sword 21. The maneuvers will take place at military facilities in mainland Japan, in the southern prefecture of Okinawa and adjacent territorial waters with the participation of more than 45 thousand people. They will also involve ships that are part of the Ronald Reagan strike aircraft carrier group, about 100 aircraft and CV-22 Osprey tiltrotors, designed for special operations, including in poor visibility and at night.
The situation around the Senkaku Islands escalated again this month, when Chinese patrol ships were in close proximity from 11 to 13 October for a record time of over 57 hours. They ignored the demands of the Japanese patrolmen to leave the area near Senkaku, and once, according to Tokyo, they even carried out a dangerous maneuver to approach a Japanese fishing vessel.
The PRC regards these islands as its illegally occupied territories and demands their return. The territorial dispute over the uninhabited Senkaku archipelago in the East China Sea has escalated after Tokyo announced in September 2012 that it would buy the islands from their private owners, Japanese citizens. After that, massive anti-Japanese demonstrations took place in the PRC, accompanied by pogroms. Since then, Chinese ships have been constantly cruising near the disputed islands and periodically make demonstrative calls to their coastal zone. In September 2012, they stayed there continuously for 39 hours.