In conjunction with the reinforcement of Self-Defense Forces on the Nansei Islands, including Miyakojima Island, Ishigaki Island and Yonakuni Island in Okinawa Prefecture and Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, the Defense Ministry is planning to establish medical care facilities in Okinawa Prefecture in preparation for military contingencies, Akahata learned on Jan. 24. The ministry released the information to Seiken Akamine, a Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives. This shows that areas around Okinawa Prefecture could be on the front lines of military conflicts in which the SDF members might be wounded.
The ministry earmarked 20 million yen in the fiscal 2017 draft budget for “the cost of examining the establishment of a medical care base in Okinawa Prefecture.” In related documents, the ministry explained: “The government has requested municipalities on the Nansei Islands to accept new deployments of SDF units. In the event of a military contingency, some SDF members might be wounded. As such, it is necessary to study the establishment of medical care facilities where wounded SDF members can be provided with medical treatment on the front line, instead of transporting each of them to the mainland.” With an eye on the construction of an SDF hospital and the establishment of a new medical unit, the ministry is considering asking a consulting firm to conduct an assessment.
In the recent Miyakojima mayoral election on Jan. 22, the incumbent candidate, who has announced his acceptance of the SDF deployment, was elected. In response, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Jan. 23: “The government needs to steadily proceed with the SDF deployment. I want to continue to earnestly explain that the deployment is necessary.” As such, Suga expressed his intention to proceed with the deployment.