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Okinawa-based US Marines conducting live-fire drill in Hokkaido until Nov. 2

An electronic message board at a gate into the Yausubetsu training area in eastern Hokkaido states a live-fire drill is underway, on Oct. 22, 2021. (Mainichi/Hiroaki Homma)

NEMURO, Hokkaido -- U.S. Marines based in Okinawa Prefecture began a live-fire drill at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's Yausubetsu training area in eastern Hokkaido on Oct. 22, continuing until Nov. 2.

    Some 500 troops plus 12, 155-millimeter howitzers and 100 vehicles will join this year's drills, their 19th edition. They were canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    During the live-fire exercise in June 2013, a shell landed on Japanese government-owned property outside the training area, about 4 kilometers away from the intended target.

    The Yausubetsu training area straddles three towns of Betsukai, Akkeshi and Hamanaka, and after the 2021 drill began on Oct. 22, members of the "Betsukai town liaison conference against the relocation of Marines" were seen on private land inside the training area recording the times and number of gun reports.

    (Japanese original by Hiroaki Homma, Nemuro Bureau)

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