Video: Armed Japanese Soldiers March Through Tokyo

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    About twenty members of a Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces’ ranger unit held a training march through Tokyo the other day. It was the first time in 42 years that armed Japanese soldiers marched through any of Tokyo’s 23 wards:

    The training was for a unit in charge of Tokyo’s 23 wards. More than a dozen personnel walked about 6.8 km from the banks of the Arakawa River in Itabashi to the GSDF garrison in Nerima.

    “It is necessary that the troops get acquainted with the urban environment, partly in order for them to prepare for disaster missions,” a GSDF officer said.

    Some within the GSDF have criticized the move, questioning whether guns would be necessary at the scene of a disaster.

    Although the men were armed, their guns contained no bullets.

    Along the marching route they encountered many “peace” protesters and leftists who had tried and failed to get a court to ban the training march.

    “This is an attempt to get the public used to the presence of armed forces,” Mitsuo Sato, leader of the Japan Peace Committee based in Tokyo, said in a phone interview after watching the exercise. “The Defense Ministry has said the training is to protect the country. But they don’t need rifles to protect us,” Mr. Sato said.

    Although a lot of media attention focused on these “peace” groups, amateur video shows that there were also people along the route who were waving flags and cheering on the rangers.

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