Japan's military is showcasing its ability to defend remote islands, as its role expands at home and abroad under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The military began large-scale annual "Fire Power" exercises on Tuesday at the foot of Mount Fuji. Defense officials say the exercises, which last until Sunday, are aimed at repelling a hypothetical invasion of far-off Japanese islands.

Officials said the exercises reflect new defense guidelines that emphasize island defense. Both Japan and China are pressing their rival claims to a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Abe's Cabinet has approved a reinterpretation of Japan's war-renouncing constitution to allow the military to defend foreign countries, sharply dividing public opinion.