Asean officers board Japanese ship for South China Sea tour

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the US Navy on May 21, 2015. (Reuters photo)

TOKYO - Southeast Asian military officers have embarked on a four-day tour of the South China Sea on the Japanese navy's Izumo-class helicopter carrier in the latest sign Japan is stepping up efforts to counter growing Chinese influence.

The officers from Asean joined the Japanese ship in Singapore on Monday, the Japanese Ministry of Defense said in an outline of the plan.

Other Asean military representatives will attend a separate three-day event from Tuesday in Japan, to observe Self Defence Forces (SDF) military disaster relief drills, the ministry said.

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