PORTS across Queensland are experiencing an influx of warships from foreign forces as Australia plays host to one of the world’s largest war games – Talisman Sabre. 

A Japanese destroyer docked in Brisbane this week, giving troops time on land before going into full-blown battle mode from Saturday when it will begin air, land and amphibious operations up and down Australia’s east coast alongside 12 other countries, including the United States as joint host.

The biennial exercise has almost doubled in size with 30,000 personnel arriving from New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, France, UK, Canada and Fiji.

Indonesia and Germany will be among the countries participating for the first time, with the latter sending 170 paratroopers to participate.

The Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will attend as observers. 

And with a backdrop of China’s coercive posturing and increased military action, the communist nation although not invited, is expected to send its spy ships to shadow operations as it’s done in the past.

Captain Amanuma Tomoyuki, Japan’s Defence Attache to Australia, told the Caller a shared belief in a “free and open Indo-Pacific” had strengthened the relationship between the two nations who have gone from enemies less than a century ago to allies.

“It’s a significant time to enhance our cooperation between Japan and Australia,” CAPT Tomoyuki said.

“Australia and Japan have a very similar strategy, the same values for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“There are lots of areas where we can cooperate (to deal with) the surrounding defence security environment (which is) demanding every day.”

The JS Izumo, an aircraft carrier, is Japan’s largest naval vessel and first in its fleet.

The ship, which is capable of carrying five helicopters, is also undergoing upgrades to allow fixed wing aircraft on board following the purchase of F35 Bravo fighter jets which are able to track and intercept ballistic missiles. 

Executive Officer of the JS Izumo, Commander Naoki Shirasaka said these combined would be critical in its defence strategy to maintain sovereignty and combat undersea warfare. 

“Japan is surrounded by the sea so that means if we lose sea lines of communication our people will be cut off,” COMD Shirasaker said.

“That is why submarines are the biggest threat to Japan.

“Helicopter (operations from JS Izumo) is very important because they can find the submarines, also they can attack the submarines and their speed is very fast.”

Defence relations between Australia and Japan has been gradually strengthening in recent years, and formally recognised in 2022 with the signing of The Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation and the Reciprocal Access Agreement.

Held between 22 July and 4 August, TS23 will stretch from Western Australia, across the NT and Queensland, as well as Jervis Bay in NSW. 

Regional Queensland will also play a critical role with mock battlefields mobilised for an airborne drop of troops near Charters Towers and amphibious landings at various locations along the north and central Queensland coast.

Maritime mine-hunting will take place off the coast of Gladstone, and to the far north of the state operations will be conducted from RAAF Base Scherger at Cape York Peninsula. 

Talisman Sabre in North Queensland in 2019. IMAGE: Supplied
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