Japan's Amphibious Fighting Force Comes into Final Stage
(Source: China Military; issued April 10, 2017)
BEIJING --- Recently, the Japanese "education force" which is responsible for teaching skills for the amphibious fighting force, equivalent of “marine corps”, was established at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Camp Ainoura in Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture, marking the final stage of formation of the amphibious unit.

In December 2013, the Abe administration proposed the formation of the amphibious force in the newly revised National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) as well as a new Mid-Term Defense Program to carry out island seizing tasks.

The amphibious force is directly led by the JGSDF. At present, the force is designed to have around 3,000 members, and be equipped with amphibious combat vehicles. The headquarters are located at the JGSDF Camp Ainoura in Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture.

In terms of personnel composition, the amphibious force will be established based on the “Western Infantry Regiment” of the Ground Self-Defense Force set up in 2002, to form an amphibious comprehensive combat troop composed of the self-defense force headquarters, amphibious maneuver company, amphibious combat vehicle force, artillery force, reconnaissance force, equipment force, communications force, rear support force, and education force.

In terms of weapons and equipment, Japan plans to deploy 52 AAV7 amphibious combat vehicles before the end of 2018, and the "Osprey" transport aircraft at Saga Airport in Kyushu, and build training facilitates for air crash evacuation and waterway sneaking at the JGSDF Camp Ainoura, and amphibious combat vehicle garage as well as banks that can dock large transport ships in Sakibe area.

The NDPG said the formation of the amphibious fighting force aims at strengthening the offshore island defense in the southwest region. Japanese military analysts believe that the SDF troops stationed in the southwest islands are limited in scale and have not yet formed a complete operational system. Once a conflict occurs around the offshore islands in the southwest, Japan has to deliver troops from the main islands far away. Therefore, an efficient amphibious combat troop of a certain scale is needed.

Military commentator Okada Toshitsugu believes that the Japanese Ministry of Defense and the Self-Defense Force envisage recapturing occupied islands through the amphibious combat troops, but the air supremacy is indispensable in the island combat defense.

"If the other side masters the air supremacy, the landing ships and 'Osprey' fighters are easy to be sunk and shot down, and the whole landing forces may collapse. Even if the landing is successful where the enemy is unprepared, the enemy can also cut off our route of retreat in the air and the vanguard will be annihilated," said Okada.

Akakata, the official newspaper of Japanese Communist Party, said Japan tried to use the force for the southwest islands to confront China. The newspaper also warned that the Abe administration's establishment of the amphibious force was "a major move to exacerbate military tensions in the North-East Asia," the severity of which could rival the lifting of the collective self-defense right in violation of the constitution.

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