Japanese troops are scheduled to begin a military training exercise with US soldiers this week.
The joint exercise is designed to increase the strength of Japan’s amphibious capabilities. The exercise will also help both countries better prepare for natural disaster and other crisis.
Colonel Grant Newsham, who is the Marine liaison to the Japanese military, said improving the country’s military training was essential to strengthening the United States’ Asia-Pacific strategy.
“If the 20th century taught us anything, it is that when democracies are able and willing to defend themselves it preserves peace and stability. Most Asian countries welcome — even if quietly stated — a more capable (Japanese force) that is also closely allied to U.S. forces,” Newsham explained to The Associated Press.
However, the two-week Dawn Blitz drills involving the Japanese troops are being criticized by officials within the Chinese government. The exercises are believed to be increasing tensions between the countries regarding the Senakau Islands. Although the territory is controlled by Japan, Beijing believes the islands belong to them.
According to the South Morning China Post, the Japanese government has been under pressure from China to cancel these military exercises. Although a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in Tokyo refused to comment on these reports, he said that the training was still moving forward as planned.
“We plan to start the exercises on June 10, and that has not changed,” the spokesman confirmed.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has yet to officially comment on the cancellation request. However, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that China hopes the drills will help keep “peace and stability” within the region.
Around 250 Japanese troops from the West Army are expected to begin the training sessions on Tuesday. The exercises are scheduled to take place off the coast of California on the island of San Clemente. This location is near the US Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton.
“Originally, the exercise was to be conducted by US forces and this will be the first time our units take part. The exercise is aimed at enhancing joint operations with US forces and improving collaboration within the three arms of Japan’s self-defence forces,” a Japanese ministry official explained.
What do you think about the Japanese troops heading to the California coast for military training? Do you think this will increase tensions between Beijing and Tokyo?
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