Intercept the Chinese Forces Approaching Okinawa”…Tension ran high! Fuji Comprehensive Firepower Exercise” of the Ground Self-Defense Force | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Intercept the Chinese Forces Approaching Okinawa”…Tension ran high! Fuji Comprehensive Firepower Exercise” of the Ground Self-Defense Force

Troops from all over Japan participated in the exercise, including Type 16 mobile fighting vehicles of the 15th Sokko-Mobility Regiment and 155 mm anti-missile guns of the Chubu Area Special Forces Regiment. Unannounced live-fire drills were also conducted to live-fire specifications.

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Firing scene of Type 01 Light Anti-tank Guided Missile, a “Japanese-made Javelin,” capable of multiple attacks on everything from enemy naval vessels to tanks coming ashore.

The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming increasingly severe with the war in Russia and military tensions between China and Taiwan. The government views this as a crisis that exceeds that of the Cold War, and the Self-Defense Forces are currently undergoing the largest-scale reform since their establishment.

On May 26, an event took place that revealed this sense of crisis.

The “show,” which was open to the public and so popular that admission tickets were platinum, had played a role in recruiting SDF personnel and enhancing the image of the SDF, but this year it was something completely different. This year, however, it was something completely different.

The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Fuji School is located at the foot of Mt. As the name “school” implies, the school offers a wide range of education for officers and non-commissioned officers. The original purpose of the “Firefighting Performance” was to show the “students” live fire and have them experience the realistic experience of firepower combat that they have learned at their desks.

This year, however, the event was not open to the public and was not streamed live. It was a realistic combat drill.

As in the past, the event was supposed to be an island defense exercise in case of a Chinese invasion.

However, the “target” for this year’s fire drill appeared suddenly, and the timing of firing was left to the discretion of each tank, causing a sense of tension even among the Fuji Teaching Corps, which played the role of “teacher” in the exercise.

In addition, the 15th Sokko-Oki Regiment (Kagawa Prefecture) dispatched a Type 16 mobile combat vehicle, the latest equipment, and the Chubu Area Special Regiment (Hyogo Prefecture) sent a 155mm anti-missile gun. The night shooting drills also reproduced a real battlefield, and even the author could feel the fear in the audience.

First Wave of Chinese Military Attacks

The Self-Defense Forces are now completing the “Integrated Mobile Defense Force,” in which land, sea, and air forces join forces to maneuver and deploy forces where they are needed.

In order to protect the Nansei Islands region, which consists of countless islands, it is not possible to station units on all of the islands. Therefore, the “Quick Reaction Force Regiment,” centered on the Type 16 Mobile Fighting Vehicle, was deployed in Honshu and Hokkaido to provide highly mobile units that could quickly rush to the islands as reinforcements.

Where is the front line in Japan to which this rapid reaction mobile regiment is rushing? This can be seen from the demonstration by the Chinese military.

On June 2, for example, two Chinese navy frigates and other vessels sailed 80 km northwest of Uotsuri Island, then sailed south between Yonaguni Island and Taiwan before returning home through the Miyako Strait; on June 4, a Chinese Air Force unmanned surveillance and attack aircraft flew over the Miyako Strait, and SDF aircraft from Okinawa scrambled to the scene.

On the 9th, four frigates and other vessels of the Chinese Navy appeared again and sailed near Amami-Oshima Island before passing into the East China Sea.

These facts indicate that the first wave of Chinese military attacks in the event of an emergency in Taiwan would be launched against Okinawa Island, Miyako Island, Ishigaki Island, and Amami Oshima.

Once the Chinese invasion of Taiwan begins, the forces deployed on these islands will be behind the Chinese forces. If the U.S. fleet rushes into the waters surrounding Taiwan and clashes with Chinese forces, the Maritime Self-Defense Force will provide logistical support and protection for the U.S. fleet. If Taiwanese soldiers or vessels are called upon to rescue them, they will not be able to refuse even if they say they will not exercise their right of collective self-defense. In the event of an emergency in Taiwan, the islands would automatically become a battleground, and Japan would be drawn into a Sino-Taiwanese war.

In March of this year, the 2nd Special Forces Group was newly formed to protect the islands. This corps has two units equipped with Type 12 surface-to-ship guided missiles with a range of 200 km, capable of intercepting naval vessels from land.

Nevertheless, if the islands are overrun – the 1st Airborne Brigade from the air and the Amphibious Task Force from the sea will go to retake them, and the Quick Reaction Task Force Regiment with Type 16 mobile combat vehicles will rush in.

In this general firefight, this recapture battle was partially reenacted, and we learned that it would not be easy. The general fire show brought into sharp relief the fact that Japan was being pushed to the brink, with not a moment to spare.

The JGSDF’s large CH-47JA transport helicopter has a range of 1,000 kilometers and can carry up to 55 personnel.
The Ground Self-Defense Force’s latest weapon, the Type 16 Mobile Fighting Vehicle, firing at night. The vehicle can run at speeds of up to 100 km/h thanks to the use of tires for its undercarriage.
Japan’s mainstay tank, the Type 90 tank. It is deployed in Hokkaido, but is also expected to be deployed to the Nansei Islands.

From the June 28, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • Photography and text by Masayuki Kikuchi, military photojournalist

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