Tokyo, Sept. 15 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s Defense Ministry plans to set up an electronic warfare unit at Camp Kengun of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Western Army in Kumamoto, southwestern Japan, as part of an effort to strengthen the defense of outlying islands.
At the same base, a cybersecurity unit was established this spring as the first such local GSDF unit.
In the Nansei island chain, a project is under way to deploy a surface-to-ship missile unit to prevent an invasion of remote islands.
“China has extended the firing range of cruise missiles and increased its attack capability in cyberspace and electromagnetic waves, areas that have become greater security threats,” a senior ministry official said. “The SDF will put priority on the defense of its command communications system and responses to attacks from outside the threat zone.”
In response to signs of an island invasion, the 80-strong electronic warfare unit will jam an enemy’s radar and missile guidance signals, while protecting the GSDF’s communications.
The ministry plans to introduce foreign anti-air electronic warfare equipment that can neutralize an airborne early warning and control system. It is looking at Israeli equipment as a candidate, ministry sources said.
The ministry included outlays for the electronic warfare unit in its budget request for fiscal 2020.
At Camp Kengun, a cybersecurity unit consisting of some 40 personnel was launched in March. The unit accompanies an island defense amphibious force based in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, and a rapid response force in Kumamoto, to protect communications networks.
“Initial response units to address emergencies will be concentrated in Kyushu,” a senior GSDF officer said. Both Nagasaki and Kumamoto are in the Kyushu southwestern region.
In Miyakojima, an island in Okinawa Prefecture, a type 12 surface-to-ship missile unit and a surface-to-air missile unit will be deployed by the end of March 2020. Such units have been deployed in Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, and will be deployed in Okinawa’s Ishigaki Island in the future.
As part of their missions, the missile units will deal with armed attacks with cruise missiles.
Amami-Oshima has a population of about 60,000 and Miyakojima some 55,000. As SDF support is essential for the transportation of relief supplies and the evacuation of residents in emergencies, local governments and the SDF need to work closely under the civil protection law.