Japan and the United States will hold a joint exercise involving three U.S. aircraft carriers in the Sea of Japan as early as Nov. 12, government sources said.

Discussions had been held on conducting a trilateral exercise, including South Korea, when three U.S. carrier battle groups assemble in the Sea of Japan. But that idea will likely be shelved because of a scheduling conflict with Seoul, the sources said.

On Nov. 9, Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers joined the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier in the Pacific Ocean south of the main island of Honshu. They have since been heading toward the Sea of Japan together.

Another aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz, was returning to the United States after completing its mission in the Middle East. It is soon expected to join an MSDF vessel around Okinawa Prefecture and then travel toward the Sea of Japan.

They are scheduled to meet the USS Ronald Reagan, which has already been deployed in the Sea of Japan, on Nov. 11.