January 29, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo
On January 28, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), stationed in Okinawa, and the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) started joint training at the Kin Blue Beach Training Area against the wishes of the Okinawa prefectural government, which requested restraint for the sake of countering the spread of the novel coronavirus. In addition to approximately 2,500 USMC personnel, approximately 250 personnel from the GSDF Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade participated in the training. Concerned citizens gathered in front of Camp Hansen and demanded that the joint training stop.
The plan is for landing training starting on February 1 on Blue Beach, and for the entire joint training to be carried out until February 6. During the first day of training on January 28, a Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) repeatedly landed on the shore of Blue Beach carrying High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), and military vehicles and personnel disembarked from the LCAC.
On January 28 the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade rode, on Osumi vessels of the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), from its current placement in Sasebo City in Nagasaki Prefecture. Hereafter, the Brigade will be transferred to Okinawa, and there is talk of a proposal to permanently station the GSDF Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade at Camp Schwab. Following January 29, other divisions of the GSDF are also being transferred.
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread nationwide, a GSDF spokesperson explained that the GSDF is taking thorough countermeasures, such as minimizing contact with the general public and reducing cases in which divisions intermingle.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)