Japan, US forces invite media to remote island drills

Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force and the US Marine Corps have invited the media to observe some of their joint exercises aimed at bolstering the defense of remote Japanese islands.

A drill was held on Friday on the islands of Tokunoshima and Kikaijima in Kagoshima Prefecture to simulate an operation to recapture a remote island.

About 200 personnel on boats and amphibious vehicles landed on a shoreline of Tokunoshima.

Some 100 Japanese personnel parachuted onto Kikaijima from Japanese and US aircraft.

The joint exercises that began on February 16 in the Kyushu and Okinawa regions involve about 1,700 personnel from the two sides.

This type of joint drills began in the United States in 2006. This is the first time they have been held in Japan in response to China's increased military activities around Japan's Nansei Islands in the East China Sea.

The head of the GSDF Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, Nashinoki Shingo, said there are many small islands in Kyushu and Okinawa, so the drill is more directly linked to actual operations.

He also said joint exercises will contribute to the stability of Japan and surrounding regions.

Brigadier General Fridrik Fridriksson, the commanding general of the Third Marine Expeditionary Brigade, said he welcomes the SDF's intention of carrying out joint drills at various facilities across Japan.

He said he is looking forward to opportunities that will enable the Marines to grow with their partners.

The joint drills will run through March 12.