Japan, the US, Australia, and the Philippines held a joint naval exercise in the South China Sea, local media reported, citing the Japanese Defense Ministry.
The purpose of the drill is to “strengthen collaboration toward the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” reported Tokyo-based Kyodo News on Friday, citing the ministry.
“The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's largest destroyer, Izumo, and destroyer Samidare took part in the drills,” Kyodo reported, adding that the two vessels will dock at the Manila port from Friday to Aug. 31.
The ships taking part in the drills also included the US Navy's Mobile, Australia's Canberra, frigate Anzac, and F-35A fighter jets, and the Philippine Navy's Davao Del Sur.
The defense ministers of Japan, the US, Australia, and the Philippines met for the first time in June in Singapore and agreed to strengthen security cooperation.
The training comes after the Philippines earlier this month accused the Chinese Coast Guard of firing water cannon at its ships in the South China Sea.
The territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea remain highly contested despite repeated calls for a negotiated settlement and avoiding breaches of sovereignty.