TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japan's defense ministry is reportedly planning to deploy missile units on an island 300 kilometers off the coast of Taiwan in an effort to counter China's growing naval presence in the area and defend against a potential Chinese attack.
The Japan News on Tuesday (Aug. 3), reported that Tokyo intends to deploy Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) missile units on the island of Ishigaki, which is only 306 km from Taoyuan Taiwan International Airport. The news service cited sources familiar with the matter as saying that the new units will be installed next year and be manned by 500 to 600 Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) troops.
The installation of new units will make Ishigaki the fourth island in the Nansei island chain to be armed with missiles. This island chain runs southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan and is situated on the strategic first island chain that stretches from the Kuril Islands in the north to Borneo in the south.
One of the new units will reportedly include surface-to-ship and ground-to-air missiles, while another unit will handle the initial reaction to a military attack. The missile batteries on Ishigaki will join existing units on Amami-Oshima, Okinawa, and Miyako islands.
The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has increasingly been patrolling the Miyako Strait between Okinawa and Miyako islands, including warships such as the Liaoning aircraft carrier. Japan's missile installations are meant to serve as a deterrent and are within range of disputed territories such as the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku Islands).
In addition, the Japanese defense ministry is reportedly planning on installing an electronic warfare unit on Yonaguni island by the end of 2023 and building a new SDF base on the island of Mageshima.