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Japan joins U.S.-Philippine humanitarian drills amid China sea dispute

SUBIC BAY, Philippines (Reuters) - Japan has joined U.S.-led maritime humanitarian exercises off the Philippines for the first time, as concerns mount among the three allies about China's growing assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.

A Japanese navy replenishment ship was in Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base, to refuel a U.S. Navy floating hospital en route to Vietnam for the seven-nation humanitarian mission.

It was the first time a Japanese navy ship has taken part in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drills although a flotilla of Japanese training vessels, including a submarine, makes annual port calls in Manila.

Rear Admiral Charles Williams, commander of U.S. Seventh Fleet's Task Force 73, said humanitarian assistance and...