Japan has withdrawn from the tri-nation Malabar series of war games due to the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation leaks.

The Malabar series, due to start on 2 April, will now be conducted by the US and Indian Navies in the western Pacific Ocean.

About five Indian naval warships from the eastern fleet will exercise with US destroyers, frigates and submarines, according to the Press Trust of India.

Indian Defence Minister AK Antony said the objective of the exercise was to promote mutual cooperation and gain experience in the field of advanced technology with other navies.

“It also facilitates interoperability in times of need in situations like disaster management. Such exercises offer an opportunity to gain operational skills, exchange experiences and learn the best practices of other navies,” he added.

Around 12 Malabar series drills have been conducted to date, of which, ten have been held off the Indian coast and two in the Pacific.