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MOD plans to station GSDF unit on Miyako Island

  • 2015-04-13 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: April 11, 2015 – p. 4)

 

 The Ministry of Defense plans to station a new Ground Self-Defense Force unit on Miyako Island in Okinawa to bolster the country’s defenses along the coast of the Nansei Islands, the southwestern islands stretching from Kagoshima Prefecture to the westernmost island of Yonaguni. The plan will include the deployment of surface-to-air missiles, as well as about 550 personnel that specialize in defending outlying islands. The move is aimed at keeping in check China’s growing assertiveness into the East China Sea, including Okinawa’s Senkaku Islands.

 

 State Minister of Defense Akira Sato will visit Miyako Island by this summer to brief Mayor Toshihiko Miyaji and other officials on the plan. The MOD will include land acquisition costs and other expenses in its budgetary requests for fiscal 2016, for which the deadline is the end of August. It hopes to set up the unit by the end of fiscal 2018.

 

 The new unit will be designed to handle security operations such as protecting outlying islands from disembarkation and responding to large-scale natural disasters. The MOD also envisages armed invasions via aircraft and vessels and plans to deploy surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles. About 350 personnel will be deployed for security operations, and about 200 for missile operations.

 

 Currently the islands located south of Okinawa’s main island are not equipped with GSDF units, creating a “power vacuum,” a senior GSDF official says. To better respond to China’s growing maritime presence in the East China Sea, the MOD calls for bolstering defenses along southwestern islands in its five-year defense program through fiscal 2018.

 

 The MOD will set up a unit on Yonaguni by the end of fiscal 2015 to monitor vessels and aircraft travelling around the Senkakus. It also plans to set up a security unit on Amami Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture by the end of fiscal 2018.

 

 In June, then State Minister of Defense Ryota Takeda conveyed to Shimoji that Miyako was one of the leading candidate sites for stationing a security unit. The MOD is also considering stationing a similar unit on Ishigaki Island.

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