The Defense Agency has prepared a plan to defend the southern remote islands off Kyushu and Okinawa from possible invasion amid rising security concerns about China, according to documents obtained Saturday by Kyodo News.
The agency compiled the plan in November on the assumption of an invasion of the islands located within a 1,000-km zone between the southern end of Kyushu and Taiwan.
Thousands of islands are scattered in the area. The Senkaku Islands, claimed by both Japan and China, are among them.
The plan calls for a dispatch of 55,000 troops from the Ground Self-Defense Force as well as planes, warships and submarines from the main islands in the event the remote islands are attacked.
“The Self-Defense Forces do not have troops stationed on most of the southern remote islands and they are a vacuum in terms of security,” a senior Defense Agency official said.
“China has been expanding its scope of activities as seen in the case of an incursion of Japanese territorial waters (by a Chinese nuclear submarine) in November. We need to monitor its moves,” the official said.
Under the plan, patrol planes of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the airborne warning and control system of the Air Self-Defense Force would collect information on the remote islands.
Fighters, submarines and destroyers dispatched from the Kyushu and Chugoku regions would be divided into two groups to prevent aggressors from landing on the islands or block their supply routes.
Of the 55,000 GSDF personnel, 9,000 would be assigned to recapture invaded islands and the others would provide rear-area support.
The GSDF would mobilize its Western Army Infantry Regiment based in Nagasaki Prefecture, which consists of specially trained soldiers in charge of defending remote islands, and members of a planned rapid deployment force. They would descend onto the islands from the air.
Troops stationed in several bases in Kyushu would be sent to the islands on MSDF transport ships.
The infantry regiment was established in 2002 as part of the Defense Agency’s review of its unit deployment plan. The agency used to place heavier emphasis on the northern island of Hokkaido to repel a Soviet invasion during the Cold War.
The agency is also scheduled to launch the rapid deployment force, which will consist of Airborne Brigades, to boost the security of the southern remote islands.
In September, the agency presented scenarios of Chinese invasions of Japan. A report listed possible attack scenarios by China, including a territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands and illegal operations by Beijing over maritime resources in the East China Sea.
The Ground Staff Office of the GSDF previously drafted a plan to cope with cross-strait military conflicts between China and Taiwan. But the new defense plan is the first penned by the agency on the assumption of an invasion of the southern remote islands.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.