The Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) is implementing on July 1 a reorganization plan that will involve incorporating the First Transport Corps with transport capability for landing operations into the Mine Warfare Force for minesweeping operations in an effort to strengthen the capability to recapture occupied remote islands. This is based on a scenario that calls for the Mine Warfare Force clearing the navigation route for the First Transport Corps to move Ground SDF (GSDF) members and amphibious vehicles in a response to the occupation of remote islands by other countries.
With regard to remote islands, Chinese warships have been engaged in repeated provocations in the East China Sea, entering the continuous zone near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa for the first time recently. The government is rushing steps to reinforce defenses based on the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) approved by the cabinet in 2013.
The First Transport Corps consists of three transport ships and six hovercraft air-cushion vehicles capable of landing on beaches for the transport of GSDF landing troops. Since it is highly possible that nearby sea areas will be mined when remote islands are occupied, the incorporation of the transport corps into the Mine Warfare Force will facilitate smooth landing operations.
The GSDF is also planning to deploy amphibious vehicles for landing on islands by the end of March 2018 to reinforce island defense. A special amphibious mechanized unit with 3,000 members specializing in island defense will be created.