Japan MSDF protects Australian vessel in drill

Japan's Self-Defense Forces have engaged in a drill to protect a foreign military other than that of the United States for the first time.

The exercise involved a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship and an Australian naval vessel.

Japan's Defense Ministry says the destroyer Inazuma guarded an Australian frigate during a three-day joint drill that ran through Friday. The ministry says it took place on Australia's request.

In June this year, the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries confirmed that the Australian military would be added to a list of those the SDF can protect under security legislation that took effect in 2016.

The move is aimed at strengthening defense cooperation amid China's increasingly assertive maritime activities.

Similar drills are expected in the future.