Japan has activated its first marine unit since the Second World War, to defend remote islands that Tokyo fears could be threatened by China.
The brigade's two-thousand troops will be based in the southern port city of Sasebo.
Japan had been reluctant to set up a marine unit because amphibious soldiers can project military force, and so appeared to contravene the country's Pacific constitution where Japan renounced the right to wage war.
But there's growing concern about China's increasing incursions near the Senkaku Islands, which are controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.
Vice Defence Minister, Tomohiro Yamamoto, said:
“Given the increasingly difficult defense and security situation surrounding Japan, defense of our islands has become a critical mandate”.
The brigade is the latest component of a growing marine force that includes helicopter carriers, amphibious ships, Osprey tilt-rotor troop carriers and amphibious assault vehicles, meant to deter China as it pushes for easier access to the Western Pacific.
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