The Defense Ministry asked local authorities on Tuesday for their cooperation in establishing a Ground Self-Defense Force unit on Amami-Oshima Island as part of efforts to boost the defense of remote islands in the region.

Parliamentary Senior Vice Defense Minister Ryota Takeda made the request separately to Amami Mayor Tsuyoshi Asayama and Katsuomi Fusa, mayor of the town of Setouchi on the island in Kagoshima Prefecture.

In his meetings with the mayors, who both plan to comply with the request, Takeda said the ministry wants to station about 550 GSDF members and deploy surface-to-air and surface-to-ship missiles on the island.

The move is aimed at checking China, which is escalating activities in the area amid a territorial row with Japan over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

In addition to Amami-Oshima, the government is also considering deploying similar GSDF units on Miyako and Ishigaki islands in Okinawa Prefecture, after the Cabinet decided last December to boost the defense of the Nansei Islands.