The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) is considering procuring large drones in a bid to enhance warning and surveillance capability in the waters around Japan, a government source said on Aug. 23. The JCG will earmark some one billion yen in the budget for the next fiscal year and begin conducting demonstration tests and selecting a drone model. Tension is growing in the Japanese coastal waters following the frequent intrusions of Chinese public vessels into waters around the Senkaku Islands in Ishigaki City, Okinawa Prefecture. The JCG aims to establish an extensive maritime defense system by introducing drones.
The JCG engages in surveillance and crackdown operations in one of the world’s largest maritime areas, as Japan’s exclusive economic zone alone is roughly 4,470,000 sq. km. Consequently, it has become interested in drones, which only require a few personnel to operate and are capable of safely flying during the night and under bad weather conditions for long hours. (Abridged)