The Defense Ministry of Japan said in a statement quoted by Kyodo news agency that 550 ground-based self-defense military personnel stationed on the island of Amami-Oshima were assigned to join ground-to-air missile units and anti-ship missiles.
The ministry also said that there were 380 security personnel on the island of Miyako, and that the number of troops would be increased to 700 or 800 to form another missile unit next year.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told a news conference that Japan’s first line of defense is now the southwestern region. “We will therefore strengthen our deterrent capability in this region,” Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said, adding that the new units can deal with disasters quickly.
The Ministry is also preparing to deploy security and missile units with 500 to 600 members of the ground self-defense force on Ishigaki Island.
Japan is seeking to fill what the ministry describes as a “defensive vacuum” in the region. The troops were previously stationed only on the main island of Okinawa and the island of Yonaguni in the far west of the country.
The islands of Miyako, Ishigaki and Yonaguni are located near disputed islands with China called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, located in the East China Sea and under the control of Japan, but China says it has the right to sovereignty over it. Chinese ships around these islands, causing high tensions between the two countries.
Japan’s Self-Defense Forces have also provided a number of rapid deployment amphibious battalions in an effort to strengthen defense capabilities on remote islands in southwestern Japan. Japan plans to strengthen its defense system under the Defense Ministry’s mid-range defense program, which is scheduled to run for five years from The first of next April.