Japan's GSDF, US Marines to hold joint drills in southwestern Japan

Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force has announced that it will hold joint drills with the US Marine Corps from later this month in southwestern Japan's Kyushu and Okinawa regions.

The GSDF and the US Marines have conducted the drills, named "Iron Fist," since 2006, focused on practicing the defense of remote islands. The exercises were held in Japan for the first time last year.

The GSDF announced on Friday that the drill will be held from February 25 through March 17.

It said about 2,100 personnel from the GSDF Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade and the US 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit will take part in the exercises.

The drills will be held on Okinoerabujima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, the US Marine Corps' Camp Hansen in Okinawa Prefecture and elsewhere. The drills will include landing exercises and live firing activities.

It will be the first time for the GSDF to hold a drill on Okinoerabujima Island. The GSDF says the location was decided based on factors such as the island's topography and climate, as the force aims to improve response capabilities in the southwestern remote islands.

The GSDF says Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft will not be used in this year's drills. In November, a US Air Force Osprey crashed in waters off southwestern Japan.