11:41 GMT +312 December 2018
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    The guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh is anchored at Subic Bay, a former US naval base in the Philippines, on May 30, 2015

    Japan Joins War Exercises on Foreign Soil for First Time Since WWII - Reports

    © AFP 2018 / ROBERT GONZAGA
    Asia & Pacific
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    In new military drills, 50 Japanese soldiers and four vehicles joined ongoing US-Filipino war games at a Philippine navy base in the province of Zambales on the northern island of Luzone in the South China Sea.

    A small contingent of Japanese military forces took part in a landing on a Filipino beach in Subic Bay on Saturday, assisting as a humanitarian aid during the exercise simulating recapturing territory from terrorists, AFP reported.

    READ MORE: US Navy Wants Major War Exercise in South China Sea — Report

    This is the first military exercise to be carried out by Japanese armored military vehicles on foreign soil since the country adopted a pacifist Constitution, restricting the use of military forces and reducing its own military presence to self-defense forces as an aftermath of the country’s defeat in World War II. The troops, unarmed and wearing camouflage, followed their vehicles, picking up Filipino and US troops playing the part of wounded soldiers.

    “Our purpose is to improve our operational capability and this is a very good opportunity for us to improve our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training,” Japanese Maj. Koki Inoue said, outlining that Japan was not involved in the combat component of the exercises.

    The exercise called “Kamandag” — an acronym for a phrase which could be translated as “Cooperation of Warriors of the Sea” — was initially started in 2017 and focused on counterterrorism and disaster response. The operations were carried out at a Philippine navy base facing the South China Sea some 250 km from the disputed Scarborough Shoal territory.

    According to US Marine Corps communications officer 1st Lt. Zack Doherty, the exercise “has nothing to do with a foreign nation or any sort of foreign army. This is exclusively counter-terrorism within the Philippines.”

    The exercises are planned to continue until October 11, with 150 Filipino, US and Japanese troops taking part, Doherty added.

    Both the Philippines and Japan have territorial disputes with China in South China and East China Seas. In 2015, the Philippines, along with the US and Japanese navy forces, held a joint naval exercise near Scarborough Shoal which Manila claims have belonged to the Philippines since a naval stand-off with China 2012.

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    Tags:
    Military Drill, military drills, South China Sea, Japan, United States, Philippines
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