• Sat
  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 1:06am

Japan plans ‘to set up military bases near Diaoyus’ amid row with China

Up to 350 troops to be stationed on three islands close to the Senkakus, according to a report

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 2:40pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 6:32pm

Japan is to establish new military outposts on remote islands, a report said today, as Tokyo looks to bolster its defence amid a territorial dispute with China.

Up to 350 troops each could be stationed on three islands in the far southwest, close to the Senkakus, which Beijing claims as its own under the name Diaoyus, the mass-selling Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

With the exception of the main Okinawa island, Japan’s Ground Self-Defence Forces, its army, have no bases on the chain of islands that runs from the bottom of Kyushu to Taiwan. There are limited air force facilities in the area.

The lack of substantial military presence is a source of worry for some in Japan, who caution that it leaves Japan vulnerable to China’s increasingly assertive stance.

Chinese ships have repeatedly moved into the Senkakus’ territorial waters, since Tokyo nationalised some of them in September 2012, to confront Japanese vessels.

The islands lie around 2,000 kilometres southwest of Tokyo and around 200 kilometres from the north of Taiwan.

While most of the bickering has been between coastguards from both sides, observers say military ships are loitering over the horizon, with some warning of the risk of a confrontation.

Beijing has spent heavily on its military in recent years in a bid to develop a “blue water” navy that can project force far out into the Pacific.

This means getting through what it calls the “first island chain” including Japan’s southwestern islands and the northern Philippines.

Tokyo is now planning to set up new outposts on three islands, including Amamioshima, some 150 kilometres south of the Senkakus, the Yomiuri said, citing unnamed senior defence ministry officials.

Deputy defence minister Ryota Takeda will visit Amamioshima this week to look at establishing a joint research project with the island, it said.

Two other candidate sites for the new posts include Miyako island and Ishigaki island, some 210 kilometres southwest and 170 kilometres south, respectively, of the disputed islets.

These units are to be in addition to a radar surveillance unit on Yonaguni, where a groundbreaking ceremony was held last month.

Bolstering the defence of Japan’s southwestern islands “has an aspect of strengthening the Japan-US security alliance,” a senior defence official told the Yomiuri.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said under a new defence programme, Japan had already decided to enhance the military presence in the southwest and had been conducting research.

“At the moment, however, we have not decided on specific, concrete locations such as those reported,” he told a regular press conference.

The report came just two days after the Japanese and Chinese trade ministers held talks in the first high-level meeting since Japan’s Prime Minister Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in December.

China is also locked in separate territorial disputes with Southeast Asian neighbours, including Vietnam where the row has recently flared into deadly riots, and the Philippines.


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This article is now closed to comments

War is not an option. Anyone who thinks it is, should have their head examined.
I don't think the Americans would combat China for a few islands. They will back off.
Just go get them. Damn, it's our land, isn't it?
How About
We heard the buglers at the Taiping Islands, then we had the horns and clarinets from Xisha, surely we are hearing the percussionists and trumpeters at Diaoyu to make it all a complete symphonic crescendo? Now where is the maetro Brennan or Comey?
if japanese want a fight, they will get it.
bring it on MF
That's provocative. This move by the Japanese simply escalates the situation. You're getting us into war by forward momentum. We won't have it.
I suggest that Japan simply return administration of the Senkakus to the US. In addition, the US should garrison US marines on the islands, thus stopping any consideration of an invasion by China, until sovereignty of these islands is adjudicated by an international body. At the very worst, if Japan is not accorded sovereignty, the Senkakus would be assigned to Taiwan, not the PRC.
Befor such a scenario evolves, Japan should conduct back-door negotiations with Taiwan to the effect that Japan would not contest the ruling, as long as both countries coordinate, develop and share the undersea energy resources without militarizing the islands themselves.
How can the PRC, which considers Taiwan one of its provinces (and which bases its claims to the Senkakus on Taiwan's claims) object to Taiwan having sovereignty? Even if Taiwan was eventually absorbed by the PRC, the guarantee of anti-militarization of the islands would still be in effect.
Let's not forget that Japan needs locally derived energy now. The Senkakus are the answer, but they cannot be developed until sovereignty is settled. Going head to head with China is a bull-headed approach; such backward nationalism ensures that the Senkakus will not be exploited for the benefit of Japan's economy for decades to come.
Then all American presidents should have a brain scan.


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