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Japan's army holds major exercise as defense minister says military role to grow

Japan is holding an annual exercise at the foot of Mount Fuji to showcase the nation's ability to defend itself against an invasion and to drum up support for plans to give Japanese troops a broader role both at home and abroad.

Designed more as a spectacle than a training opportunity, the exercises focus on a scenario in which Japan is attacked from the sea. This year's exercises involve 2,400 troops, 30 aircraft and 80 tanks and armored vehicles, which is fairly typical. They began Tuesday and will continue for several days.

In a written statement, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the exercises show Japan's resolve to meet "deepening uncertainties" in the region and to be able to defend its own territory. He says the military's role will likely grow.