By AUDREY McAVOY
HONOLULU (AP) - Japanese Maj. Gen. Jiro Hiroe turns to numbers to explain why Japan is interested in developing the skills to move troops from sea to shore: his nation has 6,852 islands and 6,414 of them are uninhabited.
Hiroe says developing amphibious capabilities is an urgent challenge for Japan.
Asia-Pacific nations are increasingly interested in these skills, either to provide aid after tsunami or other disasters or to defend islands claimed by neighboring states.
In a sign of that, officers from 23 nations gathered in Hawaii this week for a U.S. Marine Corps-hosted symposium. Many separately attended a Wednesday panel discussion on amphibious capabilities at an Army meeting in Waikiki.
First Marine Expeditionary Force commander Lt. Gen. David Berger says most nations at the symposium are looking to accelerate their acquisition of amphibious capabilities.