Japan, U.S. to stage joint military exercise despite China’s protest

June 04, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Japan and the United States will go ahead with a joint military exercise in California to simulate recapturing remote islands, despite protests from China, sources said.

"Dawn Blitz," a U.S. Navy and Marine Corps amphibious training exercise that will involve Japan's Self-Defense Forces, is set for June 10-26. The exercise will be conducted at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego and San Clemente Island.

China called for the military exercise to be canceled ahead of the June 7-8 summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in California, sources close to the Japanese and U.S. governments said.

Tensions remain high between Tokyo and Beijing due to the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Dawn Blitz is based on a scenario in which the SDF lands on an island with U.S. forces and fires upon occupation forces there.

Japan has explained to Chinese officials that the exercise does not suppose a specific third country as a hypothetical adversary, the sources said.

The exercise is in line with a new policy under Japan's National Defense Program to bolster the SDF's capability to defend the Nansei island chain, which lies between the main island of Kyushu and Taiwan.

After discussing a response to China, Tokyo and Washington agreed to go ahead with the training, saying it is necessary for their alliance.

They also reconfirmed that the exercise will be open to reporters.

The SDF's three branches--ground, maritime and air--have separately taken part in exercises by U.S. forces in the past. Dawn Blitz will be the first time all three branches participate in the same exercise with U.S. forces.

A similar drill by Japanese and U.S. troops was initially planned by the previous government led by the Democratic Party of Japan to take place on an uninhabited island in Okinawa Prefecture last November. But it was scrapped due to fierce local opposition and concern about provoking China.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Ground Self-Defense Force members talk with U.S. soldiers on an armored vehicle in the Aibano Training Area, Takashima, Shiga Prefecture in October 2012. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Ground Self-Defense Force members talk with U.S. soldiers on an armored vehicle in the Aibano Training Area, Takashima, Shiga Prefecture in October 2012. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Ground Self-Defense Force members talk with U.S. soldiers on an armored vehicle in the Aibano Training Area, Takashima, Shiga Prefecture in October 2012. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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