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Iran Press TV

Japan's army forces launch annual live-fire drills

Iran Press TV

Aug 18, 2015 9:39AM

Japanese military forces have launched four-day live-fire drills near Mount Fuji as Tokyo seeks to expand the role of the army.

Some 2,300 soldiers joined the annual exercises which began on Tuesday, with some 80 tanks and armored vehicles as well as 60 field guns and 20 helicopters deployed in an area 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of the capital city.

Ground troops fired artillery rounds near Japan's highest mountain, with helicopters flying overhead.

The military maneuver comes at a time that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing mounting pressure over security bills that would give the country’s army forces greater power.

The bills, which were passed in the lower house of Japan's parliament on July 16, could pave the way for Japanese troops to go to war abroad for the first time since World War II.

The controversial legislation is under discussion in the upper house of the parliament, where Abe's Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition has the two-thirds majority required for its adoption.

Opponents to Abe’s administration are concerned that the legislation would undermine seventy years of Japan's pacifism since the end of the World War II in 1945.

Abe has claimed that Tokyo can no longer shy away from its responsibility to help safeguard regional stability, and must step out of the shade of the security umbrella provided by the United States.

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