Soldiers with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force practice amphibious landing techniques while conducting Helo Cast training Jan. 27 during Exercise Iron Fist 2014 aboard Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif. (Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos / Marine Corps)
The Japanese military plans to create a force of about 3,000 troops modeled after the US Marine Corps and capable of rapidly launching amphibious missions, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The new force, which would use amphibious vehicles and V-22 Ospreys, would likely be based out of Kyushu or the Nansei Islands, which include Okinawa, according to the Journal. To accelerate its formation, Japan hopes to increase exercises with the U.S. military, such as “Iron Fist 2014,” a seven-week amphibious exercise at Camp Pendleton, Calif., that is finishing up this week.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has said he hopes Japanese troops can also transfer to Guam, where Marines from Okinawa are being repositioned.
“Our nation has numerous remote islands, and islands of various sizes and they give us the basis for our exclusive economic zone that ranks sixth in the world,” Onodera told the Journal. “That makes it important to provide defense for islands over the coming years.”
Late last year, China established an air defense identification zone which includes the Senkaku Islands. The U.S. government has said that the islands are part of Japanese territory, which the U.S. military is obligated to protect under a 1960 treaty. ?However, when discussing the new force, Onodera did not mention growing tensions with China.