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Japan: Army holds live-fire drills as Tokyo seeks to expand role of the military

Japan's Self Defence Forces (SDF) held live-fire drills as part of an annual exercise near Mount Fuji on Sunday, as Tokyo seeks to expand the role of the military in the country. Around 2,300 soldiers joined the exercise, deploying 20 helicopters, some 80 tanks and armoured vehicles, as well as 60 field guns on the training ground, 80 kilometres (50 miles) west of Tokyo. Ground personnel fired artillery against the backdrop of Japan's highest mountain, with helicopters flying overhead. The drill coincided with a military exercise in South Korea, which began on Monday simulating an all-out North Korean attack. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing increasing opposition over security bills that would open the door to Japanese troops engaging in combat in defence of an ally for the first time since the end of World War II. The legislation passed through the lower house of parliament last month and is now being debated in the upper house. A constitution imposed by a post-war US occupation force barred Japan's military from combat except in self-defence.