The Self-Defense Forces will conduct a drill on Okinawa’s Miyako Island using surface-to-ship missiles.
The first such SDF drill on the island comes amid China’s increasing muscle-flexing near the Senkaku Islands, which are under the jurisdiction of Okinawa Prefecture.
Members of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s 3rd Surface-to-Surface Missile Regiment, based at GSDF Kamifurano Station in Hokkaido, left for the island aboard a ferry from Tomakomai on Friday afternoon.
The ferry was also carrying missile launchers loaded with mock missiles, which will not be fired in the drill.
The drill will be part of comprehensive exercises involving 34,000 personnel from the GSDF and the Air Self-Defense and Maritime Self-Defense forces, with the aim of beefing up their ability to defend the Nansei island chain.
The Chinese navy is increasingly advancing into the Pacific Ocean from the East China Sea, with ships frequently passing through the high seas between Okinawa Island and Miyako since 2008.
Between Oct. 24 and Friday, Chinese naval forces conducted a large-scale live-fire drill joined by the North, East and South fleets in the Western Pacific for the first time.
The GSDF surface-to-ship missiles have a range of less than 200 km. For the drill, a surface-to-ship missile launcher will also be brought to the GSDF’s Naha Station on Okinawa Island, about 300 km from Miyako.
In addition, communications equipment of the GSDF missile regiment will be brought to Okinawa’s Ishigaki Island, some 150 km from the Senkakus.