First Since WWII: Japan Resurrects Their Marine Corps

Japanese Marines and the colors of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade.

They may not officially be called “Marines,” and their branch of the Japanese armed forces may not officially be known as the “Marine Corps.”

In fact, Japan doesn’t even have an armed forces. At least on paper.

Commander of Allied Occupation Forces, American Gen. Douglas MacArthur ensured the Japanese constitution forbade any military forces, but did allow for a Self-Defense Force. MacArthur was the de facto emperor of the island nation when the Japanese surrendered at the end of WWII, and until Pres. Harry Truman relieved him of command.

Back to present day, Japan may not have the wherewithal to stand up a traditional military, but it’s fairly obvious that the government of Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has every intention of Japan defending itself.

With that said, in everything but name, Japan’s Marines have not only have struck fear into the Beijing government, but have recently landed in Southern California.

Nevertheless, China’s communist government has been saber-rattling as of late regarding their ownership of Japan’s Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The Chinese are also flexing their military muscle into the South China Sea, claiming dominion of the Spratly Islands, although legally owned by the Philippines.

As reported by Reuters;

The activation of the 2,100 strong ARDB (Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade) takes Japan a step closer to creating a force similar to a US Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) able to plan and execute operations at sea far from its home base.

“They’ve already demonstrated the ability to put together an ad hoc MEU. But to have a solid, standing MEU capability requires concerted effort,” Grant Newsham, a research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies.

“If Japan put its mind to it, within a year or year and a half it could have a reasonable capability.”

Maj. Gen. Shinichi Aoki, commander of the ARDB.

Technically part of Japanese Army (Japan Ground Self-Defense Force), by its very nature, the ARDB (Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade Suirikukidōdan) will work hand-in-glove with the Japanese Navy (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force) in countering any Chinese threat distant from the Home Islands.

To better illustrate the “over the horizon” attack from the sea capabilities of the ARDB, they recently completed training with the US Marines in Camp Pendleton, CA, in Operation Iron Fist.

As noted in a report from the US Naval Institute, the ARDB certified as Regimental Landing Team combat-ready;

The idea behind Iron Fist, an annual training exercise first held in 2006, is to improve the Marine Corps’ and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force ARDB’s ability to plan, communicate and conduct combined amphibious operations. This year’s amphibious assault exercise, held at Camp Pendleton’s “Red Beach” training area, also helped Japan certify its first Regimental Landing Team to become operational. The exercise began Jan. 6 and wraps up next week.

Iron Fist 2019 marks the first time Japan brought its own AAV-P7/A1s for the training, along with 550 soldiers and equipment, all organized as a regimental landing team with the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade’s first operational unit, the 1st Regiment.

“The duty of the brigade is to conduct amphibious tactics for quick landing, recapturing, and securing the islands in case of illegal occupation,” according to the Japan Ministry of Defence’s website. “The Brigade will further strengthen its amphibious tactical functions by conducting continual training for equipment including the newly introduced AAV7 and the V-22 Osprey.”

Looming in the background are what military officials and analysts see as growing security threats in China and Russia, which are extending their influence and military reach across the region. Both nations have challenged Japan over control of nearby remote islands.

The ARDB is slated to have three regiments under its wing when it is fully established, Lt. Gen. Hirokazu Fujita, chief of staff of the Ground Component Command, told journalists during a press conference here on Monday.