Japan Coast Guard to form dedicated group for Senkaku patrols

Kyodo

The Japan Coast Guard will create a team of several hundred guardsmen and a fleet of new patrol boats to guard Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands, in light of repeated incursions by Chinese vessels and flybys by Beijing’s aircraft, sources said Friday.

The team, to be based at the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, will be equipped with more than 10 patrol vessels from April 2015 to beef up security around the Japan-administered islet group, which China also claims, in the East China Sea, the sources said.

The coast guard plans to request a budgetary outlay to build six of the team’s patrol boats as part of the fiscal 2012 supplementary budget, they said.

Chinese ships frequently sailed near the Senkakus since the Japanese government purchased three of the main islets Sept. 11, effectively nationalizing the chain. In the past four months, China’s vessels have intruded into Japan’s territorial waters around the islets on 21 occasions.

The government decided to set up the new team because it sees the tense territorial standoff with China continuing, and is concerned the frequent deployment of patrol ships in the East China Sea may restrict the coast guard’s normal operations, such as recruiting helpers in the event of maritime accidents, they said.