The U.S. Marines conducted live shelling exercises with their advanced High Mobility Rocket System (HIMARS) for the first time in Japan in joint exercises with the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) during the “Northern Viper 2017” drill that took place in a GSDF training area in Hokkaido last August. These exercises were an indication of the intensification of military exercises by U.S. Marines Okinawa.
According to information on the exercises obtained from the Hokkaido Defense Bureau compiled by the crisis management division of the Hokkaido government, HIMARS exercises were conducted on Aug. 19, 20, and 22. Night firing exercises also took place on Aug. 22.
The Okinawa Peace Committee also confirmed that six HIMARS were unloaded from ships chartered by the Ministry of Defense at the Naha Military Port (in Naha City) on Sept. 5, shortly after the exercises. (Abridged)