• Kyodo

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The Ground Self-Defense Force took a step Monday toward creating an amphibious force similar to the U.S. Marine Corps by establishing a new unit that will train members of the envisioned brigade.

The GSDF amphibious brigade, to be launched at the end of the next fiscal year through March 2018, will be tasked with countering possible attacks on Japanese islands that stretch from Kyushu to Taiwan, as the country faces China’s growing maritime assertiveness.

The brigade will train using the ship-to-shore tracked AAV-7 amphibious landing vehicles that are also used by the U.S. Marines, according to GSDF officials.

On Monday, a ceremony to mark the launch of the training unit was held at the GSDF’s Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. The amphibious brigade will be based at the same facility. A preparatory unit was also installed there in 2015.

“The security environment is becoming more severe. I want you to be aware of the heavy responsibility you all bear in supporting the amphibious operations,” Col. Ryuji Toyoda, who commands the GSDF’s Western Infantry Regiment, told his subordinates who will conduct the training.

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