Tokyo, Oct. 30 (Jiji Press) — The construction of a new Ground Self-Defense Force base on Ishigaki Island in Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa is expected to start after the turn of the year at the earliest, government sources have said.
The Defense Ministry plans to start inviting bids for the construction project possibly by the end of this month, according to the sources.
The Ishigaki base is aimed at strengthening the defense of Japan’s southwestern remote islands amid growing Chinese military activities in the East China Sea. The ministry plans to station some 500-600 GSDF troops there, including surface-to-air and land-to-sea missile units.
The city of Ishigaki includes the Senkaku islands, which are claimed by China and called Diaoyu in the country.
In the Japanese government’s fiscal 2018 budget, about 13.6 billion yen is earmarked for land acquisition and construction work for the new GSDF base.
In November 2015, Kenji Wakamiya, then state minister of defense, visited Ishigaki to ask Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama to accept the stationing of GSDF troops. In July this year, the mayor officially notified the government of the city’s intention to accept the request.
Among other southwestern islands, some 150 coastal surveillance troops were deployed on the westernmost Japanese island of Yonaguni in Okinawa in March 2016. Surface-to-air and land-to-sea missile units are planned to be positioned on Miyako Island, also in Okinawa.