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Japan, US may conduct joint drill to retake remote island

Publication Date : 16-10-2012


Japan and US are considering holding a joint military exercise to recover an island occupied by an enemy amid Japan-China islands row


The Japanese and US governments are considering holding a joint military exercise on an uninhabited island in Okinawa Prefecture in November. The exercise would simulate the coordination of forces to recover an island occupied by an enemy, according to sources close to the Japanese government.

If the exercise goes ahead, it will be the first Japan-US full-scale joint island-recovery exercise held on a Japanese island.

Irisunajima island in the village of Tonaki, about 60 kilometres northwest of Naha, has been chosen for the envisaged exercise, the sources said. US forces use the uninhabited island as a firing and shelling range.

In the exercise, the Ground Self-Defence Force and US Marine Corps would land on and retake the hypothetically occupied island with support from aircraft, the sources said. The "recapture" of the island would be part of a Japan-US joint training exercise, scheduled from early to mid-November, according to the sources.

In line with the Defence Ministry's policy of reinforcing the defence of the Nansei Islands, including remote islands in Okinawa Prefecture, the GSDF and US marines conducted a joint exercise to retake an island near Guam in September. The GSDF is beefing up cooperation with US marines, and started dispatching young officers to the US Marine Corps' command centre in Okinawa Prefecture and other facilities earlier this month.

With Japan-China relations under strain due to the row over the Senkaku Islands (known in China as Diaoyu) in Okinawa Prefecture, some government officials have expressed concern over the envisaged exercise.

"The exercise aimed at retaking a remote island in the prefecture could trigger a backlash from China," one official said.


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