Japan formed a credible, ready force to conduct amphibious operations and defend its sphere of interests in the region from what it desscribes as a Chinese expansion.
On April 7, Japanese news agency Kyodo News reported that the Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ first amphibious fighting unit had became fully operational to defend the southwest islands in the face of China’s growing maritime assertiveness. During the ceremony held at the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, Japanese troops made a demonstration exercise of skills.
“The Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade will show to the international society our firm resolve to defend our islands,” the Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera said.
The brigade is deployed in Sasebo and was “activated” on March 27. The pultan formed in 2012 gave the base to the amphibian brigade. The new amphibious operations unit is expected to grow into a 3,000-member force, using V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and amphibious assault vehicles for storming beaches, Kyodo News said. The USA has actively supported the creation of this amphibian formation. Each regiment includes a command company and three pultans. One rota is for the armored fighting vehicle (AFV) landing AAV7A1, second is for the air landing, third is for the landing from motor boats. The brigade it armed with 30 AFV AAV7A1 (in plans to buy 52-54 items), Japanese armed car LAV, 120mm and 81mm mortars and antitank missile systems. In addition, US convertiplanes Bell Boeing V-22B Osprey are expected to buy.
The move to create the amphibious brigade concerns China’s expanding military activities at the sea and in the air, especially over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku island and the growing tension in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. China Coast Guard vessels have frequently entered Japanese waters around the Senkaku.
“I believe the presence of the amphibious forces will work quite well against countries with any intention to make advances toward our territory,” Koichi Isobe, a retired lieutenant general of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), said, pointing that the “deterrence effect” is likely to be strengthen through the collaboration between the Japanese and U.S. Marines.
Moreover, China is considered to be one of the few real ally of North Korea. Thus, the North Korean missile program, which results in repeated missile launches in the directino of Japan, remains a focus of tension in the region.