Naval manoeuvres that have rankled China in the past are set to unfold in the North Pacific Ocean next week.
Japanese warships will join an armada of US and Indian warships to take part in exercise Malabar from July 24-30, a trilateral engagement that China has been suspicious of and is expected to track closely.
China had lodged a formal protest when Japan was invited to take part in this exercise in 2007. The Malabar series has historically been an Indo-US affair, but its scope has widened with Japan being invited for the third time.
Japanese ambassador to India Takeshi Yagi said his country attached immense importance to maritime cooperation with India.
The exercise is being held at time when the US is giving more attention to Asia-Pacific in what Washington calls "rebalance" in its ties with the region. China has disapproved of the shift in the US foreign policy, as Beijing believes the move is aimed at containing it.
The exercise also comes in the backdrop of rising tensions between Tokyo and Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Unlike previous years, the upcoming exercise will not see aircraft carriers in action. India will be represented by stealth frigate INS Shivalik, destroyer INS Ranvijay and fleet tanker INS Shakti at the exercise.
The three Indian warships are currently taking part in exercise Indra with the Russian Navy in the Sea of Japan and will sail to the Pacific after the joint drills conclude on July 19.