Japan, U.S. to Conduct Island Defense Drill in Japan

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A Ground Self-Defense Force assault amphibious vehicle lands on a beach in Tokunoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture, during a drill in November 2022.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan and the United States will conduct a joint military exercise simulating remote island defense in southwestern Japan between Feb. 16 and March 12, the Ground Self-Defense Force said Friday.

The Iron Fist exercise, which has been carried out in the United States annually since 2006, will come to the Asian country for the first time.

Locations for the drill include the Kikai Island in Kagoshima Prefecture and the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Hansen on Okinawa Prefecture’s main island, both of which are part of the Nansei island chain stretching between the Kyushu southwestern region and Taiwan.

The Nansei chain separates the East China Sea, where Chinese maritime activities are increasing, from the rest of the Pacific.

Participants will practice deploying troops to an island with no stationed forces and retaking an invaded remote island, according to the GSDF.

The drill will also include a combat exercise linking a landing operation using amphibious vehicles with parachute drop training.

The drill will bring together some 800 troops from Japan, including the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade and the 1st Airborne Brigade, and 900 troops from the United States, including the Marine Corps’ 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, stationed in Okinawa.

The two countries agreed to conduct the Iron Fist exercise in the Western Pacific next year and later, the GSDF said.