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Japan Holds Military Exercises

September 11, 1999

HATAOKA, Japan (AP) _ About 1,700 Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers participated in live fire drills Saturday at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan’s only large-scale military exercises open to the public.

Missile blasts boomed against the backdrop of Japan’s most renowned natural site, as thousands of onlookers marveled at the exercises that began early in the morning and were to last till late at night.

For the first time in the annual drills, Japanese F-4 fighters screeched across the skies, and multi-purpose helicopters hovered in the air at the East Fuji training ground.

But despite threats to Japan’s security like fears of a North Korean missile test and renewed tensions between China and Taiwan, this year’s drills were no different in scope from those in the past, said a Defense Agency spokesman, who declined to be named.

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