Japan, US Conduct Aegis Destroyer Joint Drill Amid North Korea’s Nuclear Threats

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) said Friday that its destroyer equipped with the Aegis air defense system joined a two-day drill with the U.S. destroyers amid North Korea’s nuclear threats.

MSDF said that its destroyer Kongo, equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors, conducted ballistic missile information-sharing training with the destroyer USS Spruance and the cruiser USS Mobile Bay in the Sea of Japan, Japan Times reported.

During the two-day joint drill, MSDF and the U.S. Navy exchanged radar information and coordinated their response to an incoming missile.

MSDF stated that the drill was aimed at ” strengthening the capability of [the Japan-U.S. alliance] for effective deterrence and response” and maintaining regional stability.

“This is our recent effort to deepen [the Japan-U.S.] close alliance to defend our nation and to secure peace and stability of this region from peace time,” Japan’s Defense Ministry said in a tweet.

The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier group, Abraham Lincoln, also conducted operations with the Japanese forces in the Sea of Japan to reassure allies of the U.S. commitment to maintaining stability in the region.

South Korean Yonhap News Agency cited unnamed sources who claimed that the aircraft carrier was also operating in South Korea’s southeastern city of Ulsan, and that it would be staying in the East Sea for three to five days.

This is the first deployment of a carrier group to the waters between South Korea and Japan since 2017. That year the USS Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Nimitz, and their multi-ship strike groups, deployed in a show of force over North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons tests.

The warship deployment came amid speculation that Pyongyang could engage in a provocative act and conduct nuclear tests in anticipation of the country’s late founding leader Kim Il-Sung’s birthday on April 15.

“We are worried that, in connection with the upcoming April 15th anniversary, [North Korea] may be tempted to take another provocative action. We obviously hope not, but we will be prepared,” Sung Kim, U.S. special envoy for North Korea, told reporters on April 6.

International monitors had said that commercial satellite imagery showed preparations for a military parade in the run-up to the national event, but there was no mention in North Korea’s state media of a military parade happening as of Friday evening.

The celebration comes after North Korea carried out a series of nuclear tests in recent months, one of which involved the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-17, which experts dubbed a “monster missile” capable of striking anywhere in the United States and beyond.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times