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SECURITY

JCG to deploy largest-class patrol ship to Ishigaki office

  • August 19, 2021
  • , The Japan News , 4:22 p.m.
  • English Press

 

The Japan Coast Guard will assign one of its largest patrol ships to the Ishigaki Coast Guard Office, which has jurisdiction over the maritime security of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, in November at the earliest.

 

It will be the first time for a 6,500 ton-class vessel to be assigned to the Ishigaki office. Chinese patrol boats have been sailing around the Senkaku Islands at an unprecedented level, prompting the JCG to beef up its surveillance by introducing a large ship capable of long voyages.

 

The helicopter-carrying Asazuki has a gross tonnage of about 6,500. It was constructed from fiscal 2018 at a cost of about ¥20 billion and is currently in trial operations before deployment. The Asazuki is the fifth 6,500 ton-class patrol vessel to be deployed by Japan, following ships assigned to the Kagoshima Coast Guard Office and elsewhere.

 

Four Chinese patrol boats have been sailing regularly in the contiguous zone near the Senkaku Islands. This year in particular, they had reached 212 sailing days as of Wednesday, on pace to surpass last year’s record high. They intruded into Japanese territorial waters 25 times, and some have stayed for long periods.

 

Twelve Japanese patrol boats that are dispatched by the Ishigaki and Naha offices exclusively to waters off the Senkaku Islands, as well as the 6,500 ton-class ships from the Kagoshima office, currently take turns supervising and warning the Chinese vessels. However, their burden has increased because of the Chinese boats’ continuous activities.

 

Deployment of the large, all-weather ship that is capable of long voyages to the Ishigaki office — a JCG office close to the Senkakus — is expected to reduce the burden on the other ships and heighten surveillance. The Asazuki will also conduct regular operations such as marine salvage off Okinawa Prefecture.

 

In December 2016, the central government decided to strengthen the JCG system amid growing tension around the Senkaku Islands and research activities by foreign ships in the exclusive economic zone. It plans to increase the number of patrol vessels of 1,000 tons or more from 69 to 77 by fiscal 2024.

 

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