http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/01/24/41027652.html Japan and the U.S. have started two-week command and staff exercises in the Pacific. They will work out elements of joint defence along the southern border of Japan. According to the official version, the two sides will work out joint actions to repulse a belligerent attack on the southern islands of Japan. 4.5 thousand soldiers and officers of the Japanese army and 15 hundred American marines from Okinawa and the 7th U.S. fleet are involved in the exercises. The headquarters of the exercises are at the Kengun base on the southern island of Kyushu. The strengthening defence of southern Japan is a new key element of its military strategy for the next five years, which was adopted by Tokyo in December. This provides for increasing the number of troops on the Nansei islands, which are the closest Japanese territory to China. The Nansei islands include the disputed island of Senkaku or Diaoyutai in Chinese. Defence in southern Japan will be strengthened by increasing the number of submarines and warships equipped with the American Aegis ballistic missile interceptors. To this end, the Patriot air defence system, surveillance aircraft and mobile radars will be deployed on Okinawa and other islands. According to Japanâ€™s new defence doctrine, China poses a key threat to the country alongside North Korea. According to experts, Japan is seriously worried by Chinaâ€™s growing political, economic and military influence. In view of this, military exercises on the East China Sea have become more frequent. The largest ever Japanese-American military exercises after the Second World War ended only a month ago. All sorts of forces of the Japanese army and all military bases were involved. For its part, the U.S. sent its marines and ships of the 7th Fleet, including the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington. In all, over 44 thousand servicemen, 400 aircraft and 60 warships were involved. "These were unprecedented military exercises," says an expert at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, colonel Yevgeny Zakharov. â€œConcerning the exercises, I would like to highlight two facts. Firstly, the Japanese islands and North-East Asia as a whole are over loaded with American weapons and military presence. The archipelago reminds of a tinder box that may explode at any time, especially when the situation deteriorates. Secondly, the expansion of military exercises is fraught with the militarization of the region and the possible transition of territorial disputes into open conflicts,â€ Yevgeny Zakharov said.