Japan’s ground self-defense forces and the US marine corps held a joint exercise on Monday involving US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, Kyodo News Agency reported.
According to the agency, the exercise, which was open to the media, took place at the Yausubetsu training range in the eastern Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido with about 150 members of the ground self-defense forces stationed in Hokkaido and about 40 US marines from Okinawa taking part.
The exercise included a simulation of an enemy attack on Japan’s remote islands with 24 rockets launched, the media said, adding that the drills are a part of maneuvers held by Japan and the United States to strengthen combat readiness and defense capabilities.
Tokyo and Washington have been conducting joint military drills since October 1 in the vicinity of Japanese territory, including the Sea of Japan, amid recent missile launches by North Korea.
On October 4, North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew over the northern Japanese prefecture of Aomori and landed outside its territorial waters. Since the beginning of 2022, Pyongyang has conducted 24 missile launches.
North Korea has emphasized that its test launches are being carried out in response to the refusal of the US and its allies, namely Japan and South Korea, to stop joint military drills, which Pyongyang believes threaten regional stability.
Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw tactical nuclear exercises from September 25 to October 9 and led the drills of long-range artillery units and air squadrons of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) this weekend, the South Korean Yonhap news agency reports.
Pyongyang staged “ballistic missile launching drills under the simulation of loading nuclear tactical warheads” in order to check and assess the “war deterrent and nuclear counterattack capability” in response to joint US-South Korea military training, Yonhap said on Monday, citing the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
According to KCNA, North Korea also held live-fire “striking” exercises, involving long-range artillery and aviation on Sunday. On Saturday, Pyongyang held large-scale air-attack drills, involving over 150 warplanes.
Kim vowed to strengthen North Korea’s nuclear force and said, as quoted by Yonhap on Monday, that Pyongyang was not interested in “dialogue with the enemies and felt no necessity to do so.”
Since September 25, North Korea has carried out six test launches, bringing the total number of missile tests conducted by Pyongyang this year to 23. North Korea has emphasized that its test launches are being carried out in response to the US and South Korea’s refusal to stop their joint military drills, which threaten regional stability.