France is participating for the first time in Japan, in joint American exercises: the Asahi Shimbun

France is participating for the first time in Japan, in joint American exercises: the Asahi Shimbun

France joined for the first time in joint Japanese-American ground exercises organized in southwestern Japan to simulate the takeover of remote islands by enemy forces.

The military exercises reflect growing concern over Beijing’s assertion in China’s South and East Seas.

On May 15, media representatives were allowed to watch the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, joined by US Marines and French troops, simulate means of regaining territory in the GSDF training area in Kirishima, on horseback. on the prefectures of Kagoshima and Miyazaki.

France, invited to join the exercise after approaching Japan and the United States, is apparently trying to make itself known and show that it can protect its overseas territories in the Indo-Pacific region.

Dozens of soldiers battled heavy rain as they made their way to the highlands in the Kirishima training area with guns and other equipment.

However, the bad weather forced a change in the scheduled exercise.

Four MV-22 Osprey aircraft used by the US military withdrew. They were originally scheduled to take off from the Kanoya Maritime SDF base in Kagoshima Prefecture to conduct an operation known as the heliborne.

GSDF transport helicopters carrying troops joined the exercise instead.

On the same day, groups opposed to the exercises staged a protest rally in Ebino, Miyazaki prefecture and elsewhere, chanting that peace cannot be achieved with the use of armed force.

The tripartite exercises began on May 11 and will end on May 17.

In addition to the Kirishima training area, exercises were to take place at Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, Nagasaki prefecture, and in the western maritime space off the Kyushu region.

About 100 GSDF soldiers, 60 US Marines and 60 members of the French army took part in the training.

During the May 15 exercise, soldiers blank fired in a simulated urban warfare after dismounting from helicopters.

They must complete point-blank range and other exercises before the last day of the session.

The joint exercises coincided with the dispatch of the French Joan of Arc training fleet to waters near Japan.

The three countries also worked together to hold another joint exercise at sea near Japan during the same period, with the participation of the Australian Navy.

The exercises on the ground and at sea aim to highlight Japan’s efforts to realize its vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

To tame China’s maritime ambitions, Japan has deployed SDF units to the islands of Kagoshima and Okinawa Prefecture, the country’s two southernmost prefectures.

“While strengthening ties with other countries, we are determined to continue sending the message that Japan is determined to continue contributing to the peace and stability of the local region as well as the world,” said Masashi Hiraki, colonel of the GSDF, at a joint press conference.

European countries, also alarmed by China’s claim, have sent warships to the Indo-Pacific region.

New Caledonia and other islands in the South Pacific are part of the French overseas possessions. Participation in the exercises was clearly aimed at highlighting its strategic interests in the region.

The head of the French unit said the organization of amphibious exercises was extremely important for France as a nation with territories in the Pacific.

China criticized the joint exercises earlier this month, with a Foreign Ministry official describing them as an approach that reverses the global trend towards peaceful prosperity and collaboration.

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