Japan puts troops on display to showcase self-defence ability
GOTEMBA, Japan (AP) - Japan put its army on display on Tuesday in an annual exercise at the foot of Mount Fuji intended to showcase the nation's ability to defend itself and to drum up support for plans to give Japanese troops a broader role at home and abroad.
Designed more as a spectacle than a training opportunity, the exercises focus on a scenario in which Japan is attacked from the sea. As a narrator explained the attack to thousands of spectators in grandstands, a wide array of aircraft, artillery, tanks and helicopters fired on targets at the base of the scenic mountain, a powerful symbol of Japan itself.
This year's exercises involve 2,400 troops, 30 aircraft and 80 tanks and armoured vehicles, which is fairly typical. They will continue for several days. The exercises, held since 1961, are the biggest event put on by Japan's army, called the Ground Self-Defence Forces, each year.
Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, in a written statement, said the exercises show Japan's resolve to meet "deepening uncertainties"' in the region and to be able to defend its own territory.