U.S., Japan cancel drill on retaking an island

Bowing to pressure from China, the United States and Japan have backed off plans for a joint exercise simulating the retaking of a remote island from foreign forces.
The joint drill by members of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and the U.S. Marines III Marine Expeditionary Force based on Okinawa was to have been held in early November. The decision to cancel the drill, which officials explain would have involve an island near Okinawa that’s not part of the disputed Senkaku chain, was made reportedly by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s office.
The exrcise drill would have used Irisunajima, near the main Okinawan island. It is uninhabited, giving the troops from Japan and the U.S. an opportunity to practice both amphibious and airborne landings.
Observers say the joint drill was believed patterned after plans to recover one of the Senkaku islands if another country tried occupying it. China and Taiwan both claim sovereignty over the islands, although Tokyo administers the Senkakus, and only recently declared them part of Japan’s national interest after purchasing them from a Japanese landowner.