Military forces of Japan and the United States are flexing their military muscles anew over the highly contested South China Sea. Japan’s submarine has docked in the Philippines for the first time in 15 years, while U.S. forces eye launching a third patrol in the area.
Although the Japanese submarine Oyashio that docked in the former U.S. Naval base in Subic Bay was not directly sent to ward off Chinese forces conducting patrol in the contested area, it’s clear that it sends a message. Since the Philippines is severely undermanned, and its military equipment is in no way comparable to China’s, seeking its allies’ support seems the most logical option.
According to a report from Strait Times, the Japanese submarine arrived in Subic Bay on Sunday accompanied by Japan’s Asagiri-class Setogiri and Murasame-class Ariake destroyers. Aboard the submarine were 70 personnel in the country for a three-day joint military exercise between the Philippines and Japan military forces. After the joint military exercise, Oyashio will head to Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the U.S. was reportedly planning to conduct a third sea patrol ober the South China Sea, to which China claims the most of the area invoking a self-imposed nine-dash rule. According to a report from the Reuters, a source familiar with the deal divulged details of the plan.
But top U.S. officials denied such plan in the future. The official, however, said the U.S. will continue to challenge unfounded claims on the part of China. Over the past months, the U.S. has conducted two patrols around South China Sea, which they called the “freedom of navigation” campaign. China has since expressed its opposition to U.S.’ recent presence in the area.