TOKYO -- Japan and France will conduct full-scale joint military exercises in the western Pacific Ocean, likely in May, sources said. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Francois Hollande are expected to agree on the plan during their scheduled meeting in Paris next Monday.
The move is partly aimed at sending a warning to China, which has been expanding its military presence in the South China Sea.
France will offer to deploy its large naval cruiser for the drills, which will include landing operations.
Although the nations' maritime forces have held joint training sessions for intership communications in the Pacific Ocean, the upcoming exercises will be their first full-scale military drills based on realistic scenarios, such as a possible clash at sea.
China's aggressive construction of military bases in the South China Sea have strained geopolitical tensions. In December, those tensions were heightened when Beijing deployed the aircraft carrier Liaoning in the Pacific Ocean.
The French vessel will sail from France via the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea for the joint drills. The route has been selected to emphasize that the waters of the South China Sea are open to any country.
Japan and France are increasingly keen to collaborate on security. In the South Pacific, France has military bases in New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
Last year, the governments agreed on the transfer of defense equipment and technology.