The United States is continuing to bolster its international military cooperation in the Pacific with a joint training exercise held with 1,500 members of Japan’s Self Defense Force and over 2,000 U.S. Marines at Misawa Air Base, Japan, and on the nearby island of Hokkaido.

The U.S. and its allies face a number of threats in the Pacific, most notably from North Korea, where the parallel development of nuclear warheads and long range ballistic missiles has led to a staring contest between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.  However, despite diplomatic relations with China, it may be their ever-expanding naval presence and claims of sovereignty over international waters that could eventually create a conflict near Japan.

We have Marines with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Marines with 3rd Marine Division and the JSDF all currently together to train here,” said Marine Corps Col. James F. Harp, the commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 36. “This exercise is strategically shaping our relationship with Japan.”

The exercises, named Northern Viper 2017, aims to enhance interoperability at the tactical level between U.S. Marines and Japan’s Self Defense Force.  With Marines from the Marine Aircraft Group 36 providing air support to a combination of Japanese troops and Marines from the 3rd Marine Division.