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First broached last July, a proposal to station troops on Yonaguni island is becoming a reality.

The Ministry of Defense has finalized its decision to station around 100 Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) members on Yonaguni Island in Okinawa Prefecture to monitor the coast and the activity of Chinese ships.

The main objective of the forces will be using radar to monitor the movements of Chinese vessels, which have increased their activities in waters off the disputed Senkaku Islands and other areas of the East China Sea. The Defense Ministry is also considering in the near future stationing GSDF members on Ishigaki and Miyako islands, also in Okinawa Prefecture. (Link)

I’m glad I held off on this for a couple of days, because the size of the garrison has repeatedly shrunk in the last 48 hours: first 200 troops, then 180, now 100.

Yonaguni is the westernmost island in Japan’s chain and likely the closest to China. On a clear day, you can see Taiwan. It has an area of 11.5 square miles /28 square kilometers and a population of 1,700. And the people want the SDF there!

The island is currently undefended, with the closest SDF units a daily P-3C Orion overflight from Okinawa. As reported in IMINT & Analysis, radar and surface to air missile systems are on “nearby” Miyakojima, but the distance between Yonaguni and Miyakojima is still roughly 250 kilometers/100 miles.

It looks like Japan is building a radar network across the Senkakus…one wonders if they’re also considering building a SOSUS-like network underwater.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch