Japan’s defense ministry is reportedly considering to station missile units on an island 300 kilometers off the coast of Taiwan to counter China’s rising naval presence and fight against a possible Chinese attack.
Tokyo aims to deploy Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) missile units on the island of Ishigaki, which is only 306 kilometers from Taoyuan Taiwan International Airport, according to the Japan News on Tuesday (August 3). The new units will be placed next year, according to sources familiar with the situation, and will be manned by 500 to 600 Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) troops.
Ishigaki will become the fourth island in the Nansei island chain to be armed with missiles following the installation of additional units. This island chain goes from Kyushu to Taiwan in the southwest and is part of the strategic first island chain that stretches from the Kuril Islands in the north to Borneo in the south.
Surface-to-ship and ground-to-air missiles are expected to be part of one of the new units, while another will manage the initial response to a military attack. The missile batteries on Ishigaki will be added to existing missile batteries on the islands of Amami-Oshima, Okinawa, and Miyako.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), which includes vessels like the Liaoning aircraft carrier, has been patrolling the Miyako Strait between Okinawa and Miyako islands more often. Japan’s missile installations are meant to serve as a deterrent and are within range of disputed territories such as the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku Islands).
Furthermore, the Japanese defense ministry is said to be aiming to establish an electronic warfare unit on Yonaguni island by the end of 2023, as well as a new SDF facility on Mageshima.