Japanese Self-Defense Force troops will train alongside U.S. Marines on Tinian in September, marking another milestone in the CNMI's military history because almost 70 years ago or during World War II, these forces engaged in heavy battles against each other on the same soil.
For months, there have been reports out of Japan that Tinian may be a future training site for Japanese forces alongside U.S. forces. Next month's schedule on Tinian confirms just that.
Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz announced yesterday that portions of Tinian's military areas will be closed from Sept. 10 to 22 because of live fire military exercises, while Senate Vice President Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) and Rep. Trenton Conner (R-Tinian) separately said Japanese military personnel will also be training on island.
“The training of Japanese forces alongside U.S. Marines is something new. As you can tell, Tinian is playing a significant role in terms of military training and operations in the region,” Hofschneider told Saipan Tribune.
At least a platoon from the Japanese Self-Defense Force is expected.
Hofschneider, chairman of the Tinian Legislative Delegation, said every time there is a major military training on Tinian, the island looks forward to positive economic impact as well as Tinian's role in the nation's defense needs.
Two-thirds of Tinian lands are leased by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Tinian's North Field was the launching pad of the two atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, putting a decisive end to World War II.
Don Farrell, CNMI historian, said September's training exercise on Tinian is part of a much larger operation taking place in Guam called Operation Valiant Shield.
Next month's training exercises on Tinian follows Exercise Geiger Fury 2012 in May, the largest military exercise the CNMI had seen in years involving some 200 U.S. military personnel led by Marine Aircraft Group-12 out of Iwakuni, Japan.
The Tinian mayor said yesterday that because of live fire military exercises, the Military Exclusive Use Area on Tinian will be closed from Sept. 10 to 15.
North Field's Runway Baker will remain closed from Sept. 15 to 18.
Dela Cruz said the Military Exclusive Use Area on North Field will be closed again for live fire exercises from Sept. 18 to 22.
“Guards will be stationed at the American Memorial Circle on Broadway and the circle on 8th Avenue throughout the exercise. Your patience and understanding will be greatly appreciated,” Dela Cruz said in a public announcement.
The announcement notifies tour bus operations, vehicle rentals, and the general public that they won't be able to enter the affected areas during certain dates.
Farrell said unlike the MAG-12 operations in May, there are no planned civilian interactions next month, except for perhaps a few uniformed men and women from an advance team who will stay at one of Tinian's hotels before and possibly during the operation.
Joseph Mendiola, Tinian Ports director, is coordinating access for the general public to observe the movement of the troops, said Farrell.