NBC News and news services
updated 11/7/2012 4:37:56 PM ET 2012-11-07T21:37:56

Japan and the United States will hold a biennial joint military exercise in Japan in November in a move likely to further anger China amid heightened tensions between the two Asian giants over disputed islets in the East China Sea.

About 37,400 military personnel from Japan will join some 10,000 U.S. troops in the November 5-16 drill, an official at Japan's Self-Defense Forces said.

China's Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said last week China was "paying close attention to the relevant moves by the Japanese", when asked about a joint military exercise between the United States and Japan.

Yang also accused Japan of "manufacturing tensions in the region".

In recent weeks, both Japan and China have sent patrol ships to waters near the uninhabited islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, raising concerns that an unintended collision could develop into a larger clash.

Much at stake for US as tensions rise in troubled China Seas

Officials from Japan and China held talks earlier this month in Shanghai to discuss the dispute.

Chinese ships have been frequenting waters near the islands, also claimed by Taiwan, since Japan's government nationalized them last month, a decision that sparked violent demonstrations across China.

China vs. Japan, but the loser could be the global economy

Japanese air force officials, meanwhile, say there has also been a spike recently in Chinese air operations resulting in emergency "scrambles" by Japanese fighter jets to keep them from entering Japan's airspace.

According to statistics released by the Defense Ministry, fighters were dispatched 54 times between July and September in response to possible incursions of Japanese airspace by Chinese warplanes. That was up sharply from the three previous months, before the tensions heightened, when there were 15 such scrambles.

A ministry official said virtually all of the incidents were in airspace over the East China Sea.

Both countries have been flexing their military muscles to bolster their claims to the islands, which are strategically located and surrounded by rich fishing grounds, along with potentially lucrative reserves of undersea natural resources.

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Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Japan, Taiwan clash over disputed islands

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