Joint drills being held ‘amid increasingly severe security environment,’ says Japanese army
ISTANBUL: Japanese and American forces are holding 14-day joint military exercises “amid an increasingly severe security” environment, including North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches, to “strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities” of the Japan-US alliance.
Around 150 of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) troops from Hokkaido province on Monday joined 40 US Marines from their Okinawa military base for a joint “drill simulating the defense of remote islands” in northernmost Hokkaido Island.
They used the Marines’ High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS.
The simulation drill is part of the ongoing 14-day joint military exercises held by the two allies as North Korea launched several missiles in the past few weeks.
“This bilateral exercise reaffirms the cooperation of GSDF and US Armed Forces, demonstrating the strong will, close and seamless cooperation between Japan and the US in responding to any situation, and further strengthens the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-US alliance,” Japanese Joint Staff said in a statement on Friday.
“The Japanese and US personnel checked coordination between their systems, with multiple launch rocket systems from the Japanese side firing a total of 24 rockets at a target about 13 kilometers (8 miles) away,” Tokyo-based Kyodo News reported on Monday.
Around 2,100 GSDF personnel and 1,400 Marines are participating in the joint exercises which involve six MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft of the Marines and two similar aircraft of the US Air Force.
Japan hosts around 50,000 US forces under a bilateral security pact.
North Korea fired several missiles last week during three launches, some of which flew over Japanese land.
Pyongyang has defended the missile tests as “planned” action against a direct military threat.
It said its recent missile tests were part of its two-week-long “tactical nuclear” drills to simulate hitting South Korea with nuclear weapons.
Pyongyang said the drills were aimed to check and assess the war deterrent and nuclear counterattack capability of the country and also confirmed the recent missiles launches, including a new-type ground-to-ground intermediate-range ballistic missile, which flew above Japan and fell into the East Sea last week.–ANADOLU