HIGASHI-FUJI, Shizuoka Pref. — Russian military attaches stationed in Japan declined to attend a Ground Self-Defense Force firing drill in Shizuoka Prefecture on Saturday, apparently due to an alleged spying incident involving a Russian military attache in Tokyo, GSDF officials said.

Thirteen officials from 22 countries stationed in Japan observed the annual Fuji Firing and Training Exercise at the Higashi-Fuji Training Area, which is also open to the public, they said.

Senior army officers from 33 countries in the Asia-Pacific region currently taking part in the Pacific Armies Management Seminar, which the GSDF is hosting for the first time, also attended the maneuvers.

The exercise, which started shortly after 10 a.m., involved about 1,700 SDF troops, 60 tanks, 70 large-caliber artillery pieces and 30 helicopters, the official said.

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the GSDF, this year’s drill featured demonstrations of the latest weapons, as well as obsolete models that are no longer deployed, including tanks and missiles.

Sixty-six tons of live ammunitions will be expended during the drill, which will cost some 540 million yen, according to the GSDF.

The exercise, which attracted an estimated 25,000 visitors on Saturday, will continue today.

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