YAKIMA, Wash. -

About 500 soldiers from the Japan Ground Self Defense Force are training this week with about 800 Lewis-McChord soldiers at the Yakima Training Center in Operation Rising Thunder.

The News Tribune reports the annual exercise is taking on increased importance as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come to an end and the military turns more attention on the Pacific.

The Japanese soldiers say they are learning a lot from battle-tested Americans. Several Lewis-McChord soldiers said they were impressed with the disciplined Japanese, after working with less-advanced militaries in Iraq and Afghanistan.