In the shadow of rising tensions in the East China Sea, Japan is holding live fire exercise in the foothills of Mount Fuji until Sunday. Japan has held annual military exercises aimed at protecting its northern territories along its maritime frontier with Russia, although present realities have led to Japan shifting its priorities to island defence.
The exercises, called Fire Power, are aimed at defending outlying Japanese islands from a hypothetical invasion. Fire Power is a first-of-its-kind exercise and follows new national defence guidelines.
The exercise included battle tanks, helicopters, and elite soldiers displaying tactics that could be used if Japan needs to defend, or retake, its island territory in the East China Sea. Altogether, the exercise included 2,300 troops, 20 aircraft, and 80 tanks and other armoured vehicles.
Tensions have been steadily increasing in East Asia as China has flexed its muscle, laying claim to places like the Senkaku Islands, which Japan currently views as sovereign territory. The strained relationship between the nations has raised the specter of modern-day great power conflict, and led to direct military competition between Japan and China.
We have included some of the most striking images from the Japanese military exercise below.
In the decades after World War II, the Japanese military played a small role within the country.
However, new policies put in place by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have expanded the nation’s military capabilities.
A constitutional reinterpretation conducted by Abe’s cabinet in July now allows Japan to play a greater role in collective self-defence measures.
Japan has sought to increase its military capabilities as tensions increase with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Japan has also shifted its military exercises to island defence and island assault.
Japan is establishing new military bases in its southern-most islands that are closer to China.
Japan has also expressed interest in further modernization of its armed forces, and is set to purchase several F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
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