US Army Pacific chief inspects defense activities on Amami, southwestern Japan

The head of the US Army Pacific has for the first time visited Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force's facilities in Amami Oshima Island in Japan's southwest.

General Charles Flynn set foot on the island in Kagoshima Prefecture with Ground Self-Defense Force chief of staff, General Yoshida Yoshihide, on Thursday.

Personnel of the GSDF and the US military are conducting joint drills through Friday on the island and elsewhere, simulating defense of remote islands.

The two generals examined the topography of the island and SDF facilities from a helicopter. They then visited a GSDF Camp Amami on the island and inspected a drill to deploy Japan's ground-to-ship missiles.

The Japanese defense ministry plans to extend the range of the home-made missiles to enable them to attack targets from outside enemy range.

Flynn said after the inspection that he is deeply concerned about China's irresponsible behavior in the region. He said the joint drills represent responsible behavior on the part of the GSDF and the US Army.

Yoshida said a series of drills show that attempts to change the status quo by force are not tolerated, and have a great significance to the peace and stability of the region.

The GSDF says Flynn was the first commanding general of the US Army Pacific who visited Amami Oshima Island. Observers say the visit appears to demonstrate cooperation between Japan and the US, as China is stepping up its maritime activities.