Japan joins expanded US military drills

Japan's Self-Defense Forces have for the first time joined biennial US military drills known as Valiant Shield 24. They kicked off on Friday in the Indo-Pacific.

The large-scale exercises are taking place in an expanded area that stretches from waters off Guam to Japan.

Media including NHK boarded a cargo aircraft to observe an exercise involving the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan off the southern Japanese coast.

US Commander Gregory Newkirk says Japan's participation shows that the two sides "are coming together more often to train at a very high level."

The US space force is also taking part in the drills, apparently to counter China's increasing influence outside the Earth's atmosphere.