US to arm Japan with amphibious vehicles amid Tokyo-Beijing tensions

7:54:00 PM
TOKYO, -- The United States is set to provide Japan with a number of amphibious vehicles amid tensions between Tokyo and Beijing over the disputed islands in the East China Sea.

A Defense Ministry official said on Monday that Japan plans to buy 52 amphibious vehicles through 2018, but it has not decided on a model yet, Stars and Stripes reported.

The military deal comes as the disputed islands, called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese, have been a source of tension between Japan and China for decades.

Japan claimed to nationalize a part of the island chain by buying them back from private ownership.

Last year, China established an Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea, urging all military and commercial aircraft to inform the Chinese government before entering the region.

However, the United States and Japan violated the air zone several times after China’s declaration.

Japan and China have scrambled fighter jets over the islands during the past two years.

The Japanese government now wants to assemble a Marines-like unit within its Self-Defense Forces.

A spokesman from Japan’s Defense Ministry said the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV-7) is among the country’s options.

“We have purchased four AAV-7s in fiscal 2013 and two AAV-7s in fiscal 2014 as samples for reference,” the unnamed spokesman said.

According to the spokesman, the Defense Ministry started reviewing options in April, but it has not decided on a model yet.

U.S. Marine amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) land on the beach during a simulated amphibious assault for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand 2012.

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