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Japanese, US troops mull drill to take island: reports

Sept. 2, 2012 file photo of the tiny islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

TOKYO: Japan and the United States are mulling a joint military drill to simulate retaking a remote island from foreign forces, reports said, amid a festering row between Tokyo and Beijing over disputed islets.

The exercise, part of broader joint manoeuvres to start in early November, would use an uninhabited island in Okinawa, southernmost Japan, Jiji Press and Kyodo News agencies quoted unidentified sources as saying on Saturday.

The drill would involve Japanese and US troops making an amphibious and airborne landing to retake the island using boats and helicopters, Kyodo said.

Japan and China have long been at loggerheads over the sovereignty of rocky outcrops in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China.

The Tokyo-administered island chain is uninhabited, but is thought to be sitting on top of valuable resources.

The dispute flared in August and September with landings by nationalists from both sides and the subsequent nationalisation of the islands by Tokyo.

The exercise would reportedly use the uninhabited island of Irisunajima. The tiny island, used as a firing range for US forces, is also in the East China Sea but hundreds of kilometres (miles) away from the disputed island chain.

Jiji said some Japanese and US government officials were cautious about holding the drill, fearing a likely angry response from China.

 

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