Japan and the US have started joint military drills in waters off Japan’s southern islands.

About 34,000 Japanese Self-Defence Force personnel, with 40 warships and 250 aircraft, will join more than 10,000 US personnel with 20 warships and 150 aircraft in the drill called ‘Keen Sword’.

The joint manoeuvres will be bigger than the recent US-South Korean naval exercise that followed North Korea’s deadly artillery strike on a South Korean border island.

Due to its pacifist constitution, Japan’s military is not allowed to attack enemy territories and hence is heavily dependent on the US for its security.