(Sankei: July 1, 2015 – p. 5)
The government is planning to establish a special unit which will be exclusively tasked with policing the territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands by next spring.
The plan is part of new basic guidelines on the protection and administration of outlying islands, which were approved by the Headquarters for Ocean Policy on June 30. They are aimed at strengthening security in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ), which come under Japan’s jurisdiction.
The basic guidelines set forth a range of measures, which include the deployment of six additional Japan Coast Guard patrol ships to the waters around the Senkakus. A special policing unit will be launched with a total of 12 patrol vessels, which include helicopter-carrying patrol ships. The fleets will be put in operation for longer hours. The government estimates the unit will have a security capacity worth 14 vessels.
The guidelines also call for stationing a surveillance unit of the Ground Self-Defense Force on Yonaguni Island as part of efforts to strengthen defenses along the Nansei Islands.
The government plans to step up efforts to take ownership of about 280 islands in the territorial waters that are not owned by anyone and remain uninhabited. There are about 500 outlying islands in Japan, which serve as a base point to set a territorial boundary in the waters and draw EEZ.
The government will begin construction of a port facility in Minamitori Island by the end of this year as a base for deep-sea resource exploration projects.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who chairs the headquarters, said at the June 30 meeting that “The guidelines are aimed at strengthening the administration of outlying islands, which serve as the foundation for our jurisdiction of waters,” and urged concerned ministers to implement measures in the guidelines immediately.
Minister in charge of Ocean Policy and Territorial Issues Eriko Yamatani told reporters after the meeting: “We are committed to protecting the ocean and creating the value of ocean. We will enhance partnerships with the Japan Coast Guard and other relevant agencies.”
Key measures of new basic guidelines on protection of outlying islands
· Launch a special policing unit to patrol waters near the Senkakus through the deployment of large patrol vessels within fiscal 2015
· Establish an airborne surveillance posture over the Senkakus around the clock
· Register about 280 uninhabited islands, which serve as a base point to set forth territorial waters and EEZ, into national property registry
· Strengthen defenses along the Nansei Islands and other outlying islands
· Monitor outlying islands using satellites and other cutting-edge observation tools
· Build port facilities in Okinotori Island and Minamitori Island
· Promote ocean education at primary and secondary schools to enhance people’s awareness