Designed more as a spectacle than a training opportunity, the exercises focus on a scenario in which Japan is attacked from the sea. As a narrator explained the attack to thousands of spectators in grandstands, a wide array of aircraft, artillery, tanks and helicopters fired on targets at the base of the scenic mountain, a powerful symbol of Japan itself.
No doubt Japan’s neighbors were just as transfixed by this “spectacle” as was the domestic audience. Itsunori Onodera, the Japanese Defense Minister, said that “deepening uncertainties” were making the region more dangerous for Japan, and that a stronger military, especially one that can defend the Japanese islands from attacks from the sea, is thus vitally important. Onodera also said that Japan would develop its surveillance capabilities to better keep an eye on Chinese ships trying to venture toward the disputed territories in the East China Sea.[Japanese warships photo courtesy of Getty Images]