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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 April 28 - May 11  > Japan-US-France joint military drills held amid pandemic
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2021 April 28 - May 11 [SDF]

Japan-US-France joint military drills held amid pandemic

May 11, 2021

Amid the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan, joint military drills by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, the U.S. Marines, and the French military began on May 11 in Japan’s southwestern region of Kyushu. This is the first time that the French military has taken part in military exercises held on Japan’s mainland.

The joint exercises are scheduled to be conducted between May 11 and May 17 at the Ground SDF Kirishima training ground straddling Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures. Together with 100 GSDF troops, including the GSDF amphibious mobile brigade, a Japanese version of a marine force similar to the U.S. Marine Corps, 60 U.S. marines and 60 French soldiers will participate in the military exercise. The joint drills include an urban combat training exercise and an air transportation training exercise using U.S. MV22 Ospreys.

The GSDF claims that the aim of the joint drills is to put into action a strategy for a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” which Japan and the U.S. has declared with China’s growing influence in the Pacific Ocean in mind. France in 2018 is the first EU member that has developed its defense strategy in the Indo-Pacific region. Considering that France pays close attention to China’s moves in this region, the French military’s participation in the joint drills hinted at the nation’s intent to strengthen joint anti-China militarization in the region.

On the previous day, Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Tamura Takaaki and members of the JCP prefectural organizations in Miyazaki and Kagoshima visited the Defense Ministry’s Kyushu Defense Bureau to demand a halt to the joint military drills at the GSDF Kirishima training ground. They also urged the bureau to withdraw the planned deployment of F35 stealth fighters to the Air SDF Nyutabaru base in Miyazaki.

Tamura said that it is unacceptable for the Defense Ministry to hold joint military training exercises amid the pandemic.

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