US says it ‘showcased’ military might with Japan after North Korea tests

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The US and Japanese forces have flown fighter jets together over the Sea of Japan “to showcase combined capabilities to deter and counter regional threats”, said the US military.

The exercise occurred on Wednesday, hours after North Korea fired three missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), toward the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The missiles fell in waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Japan and the US wanted to show their combined resolve in the wake of North Korea’s latest missile launches, two US officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Eight aircraft, including four American F-16 and Japanese F-15 jets each, flew from the island country’s bases for the “showcase”, said Japan’s Air Self Defence Force.

The operation also comes justa few days after a Russia-China joint bomber flight conducted near Japan on Tuesday when US president Joe Biden was on a trip to Tokyo.

The US president was meeting his Japanese counterpart, prime minister Fumio Kishida, along with the Indian and Australian head of states for the Quad, an Indo-Pacific security and economic coalition meant as a counterweight to China’s growing influence in the region.

Chinese H-6 bombers and Russian TU-95s flew over the Sea of Japan to areas over the East China Sea, but did not violate Japanese airspace, said the country’s defence minister Nobuo Kishi.

In this handout photo released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, a missile is fired during a US and South Korea joint training exercise to fire a ground-to-ground missile on 25 May 2022 (Getty Images)
In this handout photo released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, a missile is fired during a US and South Korea joint training exercise to fire a ground-to-ground missile on 25 May 2022 (Getty Images)

He, however, added that their joint operation represented an “increased level of provocation” and a threat to the Quad.

But the Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Wu Qian dismissed it as a “routine joint strategic air patrol” carried out since 2019.

“This operation is not aimed at a third party and has nothing to do with the current international and regional situation,” he said in a video statement posted Wednesday on the defense ministry website.

Earlier on Wednesday, North Korea spurred fresh tensions in East Asia when it fired three missiles into the Sea of Japan, hours after the US president concluded his trip to Japan.

One of the missiles, according to South Korean officials, appeared to be Pyongyang’s largest intercontinental ballistic missile, with an estimated range of about 15,000km, enough to reach the US.

In retaliation, the US and South Korean militaries fired two surface-to-surface missiles in what they said was a demonstration of their striking capabilities.

Additional reporting from the wires

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