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Several news outlets have reported that Japan’s National Police Agency has come up with an interesting request for the 2020 budget: a new unit dedicated to protecting the Senkaku Islands. The budget request suggests that up to 159 new police officers could be assigned to Okinawa along with additional helicopters and weapons for patrolling Japan’s uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

This budget request begs two questions: Why, and why now? The short answers: to counter China’s Senkaku Islands ambition, and because this is the next logical step in the evolution of Japan’s southwest islands defense strategy.

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