Japan military drills amid North Korea tensions

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption Soldiers, tanks and helicopters will take part in the annual show of strength Japan’s defence ministry is conducting its largest military drill in three decades amid heightened tensions…

Japan military drills amid North Korea tensions

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption Soldiers, tanks and helicopters will take part in the annual show of strength

Japan’s defence ministry is conducting its largest military drill in three decades amid heightened tensions with North Korea.

At a cost of 30 billion yen ($274m; £209m), hundreds of thousands of soldiers will take part in the biggest ever exercises, to which North Korea is not invited.

They will practise defending land, air and sea fronts from rogue states and unidentified aggressors.

China has warned against the exercises, which also involved US Pacific Fleet ships.

Anxious to show that it is still a “normal country”, Japan plans to launch a large-scale anti-ship missile strike at mock targets on nearby islands in the north of the archipelago.

The military said it would target land, air and sea targets, including “militarised waters”, an apparent reference to China’s control of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

“This drills are based on existing threat assessment and contingency planning to guard against abnormal contingencies,” Japanese defence ministry spokesman Takayuki Matsuyama told reporters on Thursday.

Hundreds of Japanese and US troops will also practice seizing and destroying North Korean and Chinese submarine’s in the “mega drill”.

In addition, Japan has sent troops to East Turkestan in western China’s Xinjiang province to help the military there prepare for attacks.

The exercises have been praised by prime minister Shinzo Abe, who said he wanted to ensure Japan’s security was 100% assured.

Three major attacks in the past year – in Tokyo, Osaka and Urumqi, in western China – have raised fears of new terrorist attacks.

Tensions are also rife following a test flight from North Korea. The North launched a rocket into orbit on 27 April, triggering a missile emergency warning across South Korea and Japan.

Tokyo has vowed not to tolerate more missile tests from Pyongyang, which has tested 20 missiles in the past year.

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