The United States Navy carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson will not be alone in the waters off the Korean peninsula as it delivers a postured American presence in response to North Korea’s increasingly aggressive nuclear threats.  It will now be joined by ships sent from Japan’s Maritime Self Defence Force (MSDF).

North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear missile programs have left many concerned that the Asian country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, will soon feel emboldened enough by his nuclear arsenal to attempt to make good on years’ worth of threats and antagonizing warnings about pre-emptive nuclear strikes.  As a result, President Trump has ordered the Carl Vinson to change its plans for a trip to Australia and head back toward North Korea, a move some believe may be a precursor to taking military action to subvert the Kim regime’s nuclear capabilities.

While Japan’s involvement has not been officially acknowledged by either nation’s militaries, sources from within the MSDF claim Japan plans to dispatch several destroyers to the region to conduct a series of cooperative military drills such as landing helicopters on one another’s ships and international communication exercises.

The addition of Japanese ships will also provide a powerful political message, as President Trump has alluded to taking unilateral action against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program if he does not receive international cooperation.