A first for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) took place on Australian soil, with the firing of an FH-70 howitzer out to 25 kilometres at Queensland’s Shoalwater Bay Training Area on Exercise Southern Jackaroo.

There is not a military range large enough to shoot that distance in Japan.

Captain Yutu Goto, a JGSDF fire direction officer, conducted the long-range shoot and said the opportunity to conduct the shoot in a large Australian training area had been beneficial.

“We were very excited to conduct the shoot and very appreciative to be able to do it in Australia,” Captain Goto said.

“It has been a very valuable experience working alongside the Australians, mainly due to their discipline, the different kind of drills conducted for their firing in Australia and being able to observe that.

“Each soldier has been able to learn from each other. The main thing has been the drills, but also the safety features that the Australian soldiers prioritise.”

Soldiers from 7th Brigade helped facilitate the live-fire activity and were honoured to be part of the historic moment for the JGSDF.

Captain Josh Childs, a battalion battery commander from 1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, said the landmark achievement for the JGSDF provided opportunities to share knowledge between the different nations.

“It’s a significant milestone in training with the Japanese; the ability to shoot 25 kilometres is growing more and more important on the modern battlefield,” Captain Childs said.

“There are a few minor differences in the way they do things but what we are seeing is the way we conduct ourselves and the way they conduct themselves has many similarities.

“They are very methodical in the way they go about conducting their serials.”

Commander of 7th Brigade, Brigadier Andrew Hocking, said the exercise built rapport between Australian and Japanese soldiers.

“I think there is genuine warmth in the relationship at the soldier-to-soldier level,” Brigadier Hocking said.

“While we speak different languages, eat different foods and are culturally different, we share a lot of values and at the end of the day we are all soldiers and that brings us all together.”