With tensions on the rise due to China’s growing regional assertiveness, the idea of strengthening the Self-Defense Forces in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, as part of a larger strategy of building up defenses in the Nansei Islands, has gained momentum.

The issue was at the forefront of Sunday’s mayoral election in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, which saw victory for the incumbent mayor, Yoshitaka Nakayama, an independent endorsed by the ruling coalition and a supporter of the deployment of Ground Self-Defense Forces in the region.

What are the Nansei Islands?