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Defense Ministry to deploy electronic warfare units to Yonaguni, Tsushima GSDF camps

The Ministry of Defense will deploy two of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s electronic warfare units to Yonaguni Island in Okinawa Prefecture and Tsushima Island in Nagasaki Prefecture by the end of fiscal 2023, it has been learned. On March 18, the SDF will launch the first such unit, which is equipped with the latest equipment in electronic warfare, in Kumamoto Prefecture. The Defense Ministry will deploy units to more than 10 locations forming two arcs: an “island chain arc,” stretching from Hokkaido to Kyushu, and a “Nansei arc,” from Kyushu to Okinawa. With these deployments, the Defense Ministry will build a position to counter China and Russia, both of which are leaders in electronic warfare.


Military strategy utilizes electromagnetic waves, such as radio and infrared waves, in telecommunications equipment, radars, and missile guidance. In electronic warfare, other countries’ use of electromagnetic waves is disrupted while one’s own country’s use of electromagnetic waves is protected.


If frequencies used by other countries in their communications and radars can be detected during peacetime, Japan would be able to transmit electromagnetic waves at those same frequencies during contingencies to scramble other countries’ communications. The interruption of communications would block the ability of multiple military units to act in concert. Additionally, radars that detect movements could be disabled to incapacitate the ability of the other countries’ units to see movements and take effective action.


To date, the GSDF has had only one electronic warfare unit, and it is stationed at Camp Higashi-Chitose in Hokkaido. On March 18, an 80-member unit was newly established at Camp Kengun in Kumamoto Prefecture. This unit is equipped with the latest mounted network electronic warfare system. A unit on the same scale as that of Camp Kengun will be launched at Camp Asaka in Tokyo at the end of fiscal 2021, 


The three units in Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Kumamoto will be part of the island chain arc, which is responsible for long-distance electronic warfare. Short waves transmitted by the Chinese and Russian militaries across their respective countries can be detected in Japan. Short waves are electromagnetic waves used for long-distance communications. The GSDF units will be able to detect communications between the command center in the home country and vessels deployed to Japan. In contingencies, the units will be able to obstruct communications and identify the other country’s units and equipment position by collecting data from multiple locations.


By the end of 2021, similar units will be deployed to Camp Rumoi in Hokkaido, Camp Ainoura in Nagasaki, Camp Amami in Kagoshima, and Camp Naha and Vice-Camp Chinen in Okinawa. Additional units will be launched at GSDF camps at Tsushima and Yonaguni Islands by the end of fiscal 2023,


Units deployed from Tsushima Island to Yonaguni Island will comprise the Nansei arc, which is responsible for responding to Chinese vessels and aircraft deployed to the East China Sea. Each vessel or aircraft transmits electromagnetic waves with unique features similar to fingerprints. These features can be collected during peacetime for analysis of movements and strategic formations so that the communications radars of other countries’ vessels or aircraft may be neutralized by transmitting disruptive electromagnetic waves.


The Defense Ministry is also considering the deployment of electronic warfare units to other SDF bases in Okinawa, taking into account China’s provocative activities around the Senkaku Islands.

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