Japan Sends 'Destroyer' to South China Sea

Saturday, 9 April, 2016 - 11:45

The 646-foot flattop that Japan lists as a destroyer and China calls a helicopter carrier will join training exercises in the South China Sea next week to send a "strong message" to Beijing on its sovereignty claims over disputed islands and reefs, an official said.

The first deployment of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Forces warship Ise outside of Japan's home islands will include a port stop at Subic Bay in the Philippines, where about 5,000 U.S. troops and 3,500 Filipino troops began the Balikatan 2016 live-fire exercises earlier this week that will continue through April 15.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, along with officials of Japan, Australia, Vietnam and other regional nations, was expected to stop in the Philippines next week to observe the Balikatan exercises ahead of his April 10-12 meetings in India to bolster military cooperation and sales.