Amid rising tensions with China, Japan just sent armored vehicles to foreign soil for the first time since World War II

The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force prepares to embark on the USS Ashland in assault amphibious vehicles during KAMANDAG 2 in Subic Bay, Philippines, October 3, 2018. US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Christine Phelps

By Christopher Woody/businessinsider.com – A small contingent of Japanese troops and armored vehicles engaged in military exercises with the US and the Philippines in the Philippines on Saturday, assisting in a humanitarian role during an amphibious exericse simulating recapturing territory from a terrorist group.

A total of about 150 troops took part in the landing on Saturday. Fifty Japanese troops, unarmed and in camouflage, followed four of their armored vehicles ashore, moving over beach and brushland while picking up Filipino and US troops playing wounded.

Japanese Maj. Koki Inoue stressed that Japanese personnel weren’t involved in the combat portion of the exercise but added that the drills were the first time the Japanese military’s armored vehicles had been used on foreign soil since World War II. After being defeated in that war, Japan adopted a pacifist constitution.

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