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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 December 18 - 24  > Number of Japan-US joint military drills marks record high in 2012
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2013 December 18 - 24 [SDF]

Number of Japan-US joint military drills marks record high in 2012

December 22, 2013
The number of days Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. Forces engaged in their joint military drills in fiscal 2012 (ending March 2013) reached a record-high, Akahata reported based on materials it obtained from the defense ministry.

The total number of days of joint military exercises in 2012 came to 854 (some exercises overlapped each other). The number is the largest-ever, exceeding the 715 in 2011 and the 759 in 2010. This indicates that the two countries are accelerating the integration of their military capabilities and that the SDF is increasingly turning into “expeditionary” forces.

What is remarkable is the increase in amphibious drills considering the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa. The Japanese-controlled islets in the East China Sea are also claimed by China.

Using the scenario of “recapturing remote islands”, the Ground SDF and the U.S. Marines conducted an assault landing drill twice, in Guam from August to September 2012 and in California from January to February 2013. In California, MV-22 Ospreys, the U.S. Marine Corps’ crash-prone aircraft, were also used in the exercises for the first time.

These war games proceeded a new national security strategy and the National Defense Program Guidelines which the Abe Cabinet approved on December 17. Under the slogan of “proactive pacifism”, the government in the new policies displays its stance to commit itself to having a presence in the world in military terms, enhance operational capabilities of the SDF, and strengthen Japan’s alliance with the United States.

These moves will inevitably lead to increasing tensions between Japan and China.

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