By Zhang Yan
Recently, Japan has jointly held a number of military exercises with the US and France, continuously strengthened security cooperation with Germany and France, and even intended to join the Five Eyes Alliance. Some analysts believe that Japan frequently cozies up to the US and other countries outside the region in the military in order to achieve its so-called important goal of becoming an influential military power.
According to Japan's Ministry of Defense, the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) will conduct a joint military drill with the French Army and the US Marine Corps from May 11 to 17. The drill, code-named ARC21, is the first joint military drill conducted by Japan, the US, and France in Japan, aiming to improve the joint combat capability during the defense of outlying islands.
There are two phases included in this the drill. The first phase is from May 11 to 13, during which the three countries will formulate an operation plan in Camp Ainoura (Nagasaki prefecture); the second phase is from May 14 to 15, during which they will conduct the drill at the Kirishima training ground (Miyazaki Prefecture and Kagoshima Prefecture).
The second phase will focus on subjects such as airborne operations, coordinated operations, and urban street warfare. The helicopters of JGSDF will conduct take-off and landing training on the warships of Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and French Navy. In addition, an all-weather drill will be held on May 15.
Japan and France will hold rifle shooting training at the Kirishima training ground on May 16. May 17 is the standby day for the drill. It is reported that four V-22 Osprey transport aircraft of the US Marine Corps will participate in the drill.
Some media reported that about 220 people will participate in the drill. The participating French troops are mainly from the Sixth Light Armored Brigade and will arrive at Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture aboard France's Jeanne d'Arc training fleet. The US participating troops are mainly from the 3rd Division of the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa. France and the US each send about 60 people to participate in the drill. Japan dispatched about 100 people from the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade responsible for defending the Southwestern Islands and the Western Air Force to the drill.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stressed that the Japan-US alliance is Japan's basic axis of diplomacy and security. He will inherit the "Indo-Pacific strategy" proposed by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2016 and create a "Japan-US+" alliance under the "free and open Indo-Pacific" framework.
On the one hand, Japan hopes to draw into European power, try to expand the influence of the "Indo-Pacific strategy", further dilute the power of the major powers in the Asia-Pacific region, build Japan into a so-called "buffer" and "safety valve" for maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific region and attract more small and medium-sized countries. Recently, Japan has frequently interacted with European countries. Japan signed an agreement on sharing defense-related information with Germany in March and hosted the "2+2" ministerial-level consultations in April. In addition, the JMSDF and the French Navy have carried out four joint training this year.
On the other hand, the real purpose of Japan's frequent military exercises on the grounds of regional security threats is to enlist allies, conduct actual combat training, and improve military strength. Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi publicly stated that France is an ally of the US and Japan. France's participation in the joint drill can promote the partnership between the US, Japan, and France while enhancing defense capabilities.
France's participation this time has attracted attention from the outside world. As the Asia-Pacific region has increasingly become the focus and strategic frontier of competition among major powers, France is eager to get more involved in Asia-Pacific affairs. According to public information from Japan, the French Navy's Tonnerre amphibious assault fleet has launched military operations in the waters surrounding Japan and will participate in this military drill in May. In early April, the French Navy also led the military exercises in the Bay of Bengal, participated by Japan, the US, Australia, India, and France. Before the military exercise in the Bay of Bengal, the French military said that it would demonstrate France's capability in important strategic areas and strengthen military cooperation with partner countries in the Asia-Pacific region in the future. This shows that France is trying to gradually shift its military power to the Asia-Pacific region and demonstrate its frontier presence.
In recent years, Japan has continuously tried to win over neighboring countries and foreign forces and has made frequent moves in sensitive areas in an attempt to break through the restrictions of the peace constitution while accelerating the pace of militarization. Japan's move is not conducive to regional peace and stability and deserves great attention.