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Budget impasse forces U.S. to cancel army drill with Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States has cancelled a military exercise with Japan because of the U.S. fiscal standoff, Japan's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday, underscoring the extent of the impact of the U.S. congressional deadlock.

The cancellation comes days after the United States and Japan agreed to modernize their defense alliance for the first time in 16 years to address concerns about North Korea's nuclear program, global terrorism, cyber intrusions and other 21st century threats.

Military exercises between Japanese and U.S. forces are the integral part of the alliance, but they have sometimes been a cause of irritation for China, with which Japan is locked in a territorial dispute.

The U.S. army and Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force planned to conduct an exercise in northeastern Japan, from October 15 to October 28, mobilizing 400 service men and women from the United States and 600 from Japan.

But the U.S. side asked for the cancellation citing the failed attempt by Congress to reach a deal to fund the federal government in the new fiscal year that began on October 1, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.

"This is the only case that has been affected but if cancellations continue on other events, the impact would be substantial," a ministry spokesman said.

The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force started a joint drill with the U.S. Marine Corps in Shiga prefecture, central Japan, on Tuesday, one day late because of a typhoon.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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