Japan's military training with Marines at Pendleton - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Japan's military training with Marines at Pendleton

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CAMP PENDLETON (CBS 8) - Away from the main island of Japan is a number of islands dotting the Pacific. While they are all part of the same country, according to Japanese media the mission of protecting those areas is becoming a growing issue.

From planes and helicopters overhead practically every day, there's no avoiding a military presence here in San Diego. Now the Japanese are here training alongside our Marines in an effort to defend the country's most outlying islands.

It can be heard long before it ever reaches a single speck of sand on the beach, but the LCAC, or Landing Craft Air Cushion, is one of the best ways to get troops and material from the ships to the shore. Japanese soldiers are part of this ongoing show of solidarity entitled "Iron Fist," as they train along side Marines at Camp Pendleton.

"This training here really builds that relationship between our soldiers or warriors and the Japanese soldiers and warriors," a Marine said.

It's also training that, according to Japanese media covering it, is needed to protect the country's many islands from the growing military might of the country's largest neighbor to the west -- China.

The Japanese soldier says that Japan has many islands, and that they must defend them. He adds the US military has facilities that Japan doesn't and this training helps them be more effective. Most recently, it wasn't a military action use for the LCACs in Japan, but instead humanitarian after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed tens of thousands.

But while here, the training is that of war, not humanitarian, even going beyond the machine. Japanese troops are learning about troop movements, and night and daytime beach assaults.

While the language barrier remains, the human element is hard at work here. Sharing MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat, from each country, is a break from what the training is meant for.

There is a large US military presence in the Ryukyu Islands; thousands of Marines are based in Okinawa. There is also a large Air Force presence there. Marines from Camp Pendleton have gone to Japan to perform similar training.

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