Media organizations observed a joint drill Saturday of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Marine Corps on the western Pacific island of Guam, aimed at strengthening their ability to defend remote islands from foreign assault.
The drill was conducted amid mounting tensions between Japan and China over a Japanese-controlled islet group in the East China Sea claimed by China and Taiwan.
The island group is known as the Senkakus in Japan, Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan.
In the drill, aimed at regaining control of an island captured by foreign forces, the Japanese and U.S. troops were seen leaving small boats to land on the northern shore of Guam.
After landing, the GSDF troops advanced with rifles to “retake” the island.
The GSDF said the two countries conducted the exercise without envisioning any specific island or foreign country.
The GSDF and the U.S. Marines previously conducted joint drills at training ranges on the U.S. West Coast and in mountainous areas of Japan.
Saturday’s drill was the first of its kind to be held between the two countries to enhance their capability to defend remote islands.
The U.S. troops who participated in the latest exercise belong to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force headquartered at Camp Courtney in Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, while the Japanese troops are from the GSDF’s Western Army, whose territory covers Japan’s southernmost main island of Kyushu and remote islands off Kyushu.
The U.S. Marines and the GSDF began the 37-day joint drills on Aug. 21 at Andersen air force base on Guam, Tinian Island in the Northern Mariana Islands, and in waters from Okinawa in the north to Tinian Island in the south.
Some 40 GSDF troops from Japan are participating in the drill.