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.
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.
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.