Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya tours the command post during Yama Sakura 75 at Camp Higashi-Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan, Dec. 15, 2018. ERICA EARL/U.S. ARMY
Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya tours the command post during Yama Sakura 75 at Camp Higashi-Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan, Dec. 15, 2018. ERICA EARL/U.S. ARMY

Japan solidifies defenses in southern island chain with string of new bases

by Matthew M. Burke and Aya Ichihashi
Stars and Stripes

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan solidified defenses in its southern island chain late last month with the addition of three military bases aimed at providing a quicker response to “natural disasters or any emergencies.”

The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force bases were officially activated March 26 at Miyako Island, which is part of Okinawa prefecture, and in two spots on Kagoshima prefecture’s Amami Oshima island, Japan’s Ministry of Defense announced last month. Tokyo is also in the process of launching a new command on Ishigaki island, roughly 150 miles east of Taiwan.

The bases are designed to shore up the Ryukyu Islands — also called the Nansei Islands — which run south from Japan’s four main islands toward Taiwan.

“The Nansei Islands are the front line of our defense and about [750 miles] long,” Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters on March 26. “Therefore, we are trying to fill the gap by deploying our servicemembers in these regions. By filling these blank spots with new commands, we are certain that in case of natural disasters or any emergencies, they can respond quickly.”

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.575277

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