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SECURITY > Self-Defense Forces

Defense Ministry to move up schedule for GSDF deployment to Ishigaki

  • May 31, 2016
  • , Sankei , p. 1
  • Translation

On May 29, Sankei Shimbun learned that the Defense Ministry will move up the schedule for the deployment of a Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) unit to the island of Ishigaki by two years. Originally, the acquisition of land for a GSDF camp was scheduled to begin in 2019, but the ministry will now earmark about 10 billion yen for land acquisition in the fiscal 2017 draft budget. The deployment is aimed at countering the threat posed by China against the Senkaku Islands (Ishigaki City). The ministry will also concurrently establish defense units on the islands of Miyakojima and Amami-Oshima (Kagoshima Prefecture) to expedite security enhancement in the vicinity of the Nansei Islands.


China is proceeding with reclamation work on reefs in the South China Sea. Once military facilities such as a runway become operational, Beijing will likely step up its provocations and threats in the East China Sea. As Chinese public vessels have repeatedly violated Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands, the government has decided to expedite the deployment of the GSDF unit to Ishigaki City, which administers the Senkaku Islands.


The government also reckons that Ishigaki City Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama, who is known to support the government’s security policy, will give his consent for the early deployment. The Defense Ministry will begin making arrangements to obtain the mayor’s approval before submitting the budgetary request.


Building facilities for a GSDF camp usually takes four years in total, one year for site acquisition, another year for land development, and two years for construction. If the land development and construction are carried out efficiently, the construction of a camp can be completed in three years, which will make deployment possible by 2019.


Until March this year when the GSDF coast observation unit was deployed to Yonaguni Island with its naval vessels, no GSDF units had been stationed in areas west of the main island of Okinawa. Following the deployment of coast monitoring unit on Yonaguni, the defense ministry has earmarked funds for site acquisition and construction for the deployment of defense and surface-to-air and surface-to-ship missile units to the islands of Miyakojima and Amami-Oshima.


Defense and two missile (surface-to-air and surface-to-ship) units will also be deployed to Ishigaki. The original deployment plan under the five-year defense buildup program for fiscal 2014 to 2018 was postponed until after 2019 due to budget constraints.


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