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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 December 16 - 22  > Armed SDF troops conduct ‘transportation drills’ on public roads
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2015 December 16 - 22 [SDF]

Armed SDF troops conduct ‘transportation drills’ on public roads

December 18, 2015
Following the national security legislation enacted in September, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) carried out training exercises for “transporting Japanese nationals” on December 17 and 18 in Saitama Prefecture. Local residents staged protest actions around the SDF base in the prefecture.

About 450 SDF members took part in the exercises in which they transported dozens of “Japanese nationals” from a maneuvering ground in Gunma Prefecture to the Air SDF’s Iruma base in Saitama’s Iruma City.

The war legislation enables the SDF to use arms abroad in order to “protect” Japanese citizens. When Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Shiokawa Tetsuya and local pacifist group members made representations to the Defense Ministry about the exercises on December 16, the authorities explained that the purpose of the drills is to “watch out” for attacks by terrorists and armed groups as well as “guard” Japanese nationals from them.

Unlike the previous drills held there in 2014, the SDF members were armed with pistols, rifles, and light machine guns. Along with transport trucks, MRAPs, which are armored vehicles designed specifically to counter bomb and mine attacks, ran on the public roads for the first time.

In protest against the military exercises, local citizens rallied in front of the main gate of Iruma Air Base, putting up banners and placards reading “Stop the transportation drills” and “Abolish the war legislation!”

Ogawa Mitsuyo, representative of a civic group seeking the removal of the base, said, “The Iruma base is located in the midst of residential areas. These training exercises clearly show that it has turned into a major base to dispatch SDF troops overseas. It’s absolutely unacceptable for Japan to head straight down the road to war through such drills.”

Past related article:
> Prepare for expanded overseas missions: PM Abe at SDF ceremony [October 17 & 19, 2015]
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