General Charles Flynn, commander of the US Army in the Pacific, claimed that he is not in a rush to withdraw rocket launchers and other equipment from a Japanese army base on the outskirts of the East China Sea, even after the combined training they were involved in. During a visit to the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force facility on Amami Oshima, a series of islands extending into Taiwan, he told Reuters that ‘some of the equipment we’re just going to leave here’ until the next joint exercises. ‘It’s an opportunity for us to continue increasing our skills,’ he added.
Because there are two more joint training exercises planned for this year, the equipment may remain in Amami for a few more months. It includes two High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which Washington has also sent to Ukraine to help it in its battle with Russia and are capable of launching missiles up to 500 kilometres (310 miles). As tensions with China over Taiwan escalate, utilising training exercises like the recently finished Orient Shield drill might be a quick and easy way for Washington to relocate some soldiers in East Asia, although temporarily.
Camp Amami, which opened in 2019, is one of many military bases Japan is building on its southwest islands for anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile troops in an effort to deter a Chinese invasion. The Japanese army’s chief of staff, General Yoshihide Yoshida, followed Flynn to Amami. His visit coincides with Tokyo’s ambitions to boost its armed capabilities in response to what it sees as an increased threat from China and Russia following Moscow’s war on Ukraine. It revealed a proposal to arm longer-range missiles last month as part of a large boost in defence expenditure that will also pay joint exercises with American forces.