Two aircraft carrier groups joined the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force in a naval exercise in the Philippine Sea on Wednesday.

The San Diego-based Carl Vinson and Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike groups conducted joint operations meant to strengthen maritime communication, air warfare and cross-deck flight operations.

“The U.S. and Japan are uniquely capable of rapidly assembling multiple large-deck naval forces in support of mutual security interests in the Indo Pacific,” Rear Adm. Carlos Sardiello, commander of Vinson’s Carrier Strike Group 1, said in a release. “Our ability to rapidly aggregate and work collectively alongside the JMSDF and the Theodore Roosevelt strike group is positive proof.”

The service noted that the exercise was conducted within the parameters of international law and freedom of navigation.

The U.S. and Japan’s coordination comes at a time when the Japanese military is working to increase its military capabilities.

Japan, concerned over a rising and adversarial Chinese military, invested a record $50 billion in its military this fiscal year. Tokyo’s new ocean policy released last year called for increased military spending and development, citing Beijing’s repeated incursions into Japanese territorial waters.

The cruiser Princeton, and destroyers Sterett, Dewey, Rafael Peralta and John Finn were among the ships taking part in the exercise from the Vinson strike group.

The TR’s strike group includes the cruiser Lake Erie and the destroyers William P. Lawrence, Daniel K. Inouye and Halsey.

Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.

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