GOTEMBA, Japan (AP) — Japan's army showed off its abilities Tuesday in an annual live-fire exercise at the foot of Mount Fuji, as the country's lawmakers debate legislation that would expand the military's role overseas.
A wave of firing tanks shook the ground at the base of the scenic mountain, and helicopters hovered in front of more than 12,000 spectators sitting on the ground or in bleachers. The Ground Self-Defense Force exercise involved 2,300 troops, 20 aircraft, and 80 tanks and armored vehicles.
Shiho Matsumoto, of Tokyo, brought her three children to the event. Although she said she appreciates the force's assistance during natural disasters, she is skeptical about the security legislation.
"As a parent, I don't think war is a good thing," said Matsumoto, 34. "I have doubts about it just thinking what if my children were to go (to war)."
Despite stiff public opposition, the legislation being pushed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe passed the lower house of parliament in July, and may face an upper house vote in September.
Photos by Shizuo Kambayashi. Text by Ken Aragaki.