The Air and Ground self-defense forces, in an unprecedented move, will transport U.S. Marines from Okinawa when they conduct their first live-firing drills in Hokkaido later this month, a GSDF official said Sept. 4.

The GSDF will mobilize a total of roughly 40 oversize trucks and buses to transport some 380 Marines and their luggage to the GSDF’s Yausubetsu facility from the nearest airport while the ASDF airlifts the troops from Okinawa on Sept. 7 and 15, the official said. No military equipment will be included in the luggage, the official said.

Although the Self-Defense Forces have helped transport U.S. forces when participating in previous joint military exercises — based on the bilateral acquisition and cross-service agreement — transporting the U.S. military units for their own exercises is unprecedented, he said. With the request from the Foreign Ministry, the SDF will carry out the mission based on Article 100 of the Self-Defense Forces Law.

The U.S. Marines from Okinawa will engage in the exercise between Sept. 18 and 29 in Yausubetsu. This is the second time the Marines from Okinawa will hold live firing drills outside the prefecture since Tokyo and Washington officially agreed in August last year to end the live drills over Prefectural Highway 104.

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