2014年05月22日

Japan mulling plans for QRF units based on southwest islands

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Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan mulling plans for QRF units based on southwest islands

Kosuke Takahashi, Tokyo - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

20 May 2014

Japan is considering putting QRF on a number of its southwestern islands. (IHS/David Playford)
Japan could establish new Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) bases garrisoned with quick reaction force (QRF) units on some of its islands in the southwest Nansei chain by fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018).

Officials at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the JGSDF confirmed to IHS Jane's on 21 May that it is considering setting up new GSDF bases to house QRF troops on Amami Oshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture and on the islands of Miyakojima and Ishigakijima, which are both located in Okinawa Prefecture. The plans were first reported in The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

The JGSDF units would be responsible for taking the lead in defending surrounding islands, including uninhabited islands. "We have not decided where to set up those security forces yet," a JGSDF official said. "We may create new security forces on some or all of those islands."

MoD officials said the new units would be similar to the lightly armed JGSDF Tsushima Area Security Force, which comprises about 350 personnel and is based on Tsushima, an island between the Korean peninsula and Kyushu in the Sea of Japan.

They also clarified that the new units would be different from a planned 3,000-strong marine corps specialising in amphibious operations, which is being trained to regain control of an island captured by foreign forces. The units are also separate from a planned JGSDF coastal observation unit that is to be based on Yonaguni island.

The FY 2014-18 Mid-Term Defense Program, adopted in December 2013 along with new National Defense Program Guidelines, outlines plans to create the rapid response units in the Nansei island chain. The MoD allocated JPY50 million (USD 493,106) during FY 2013 and JPY60 million during FY 2014 respectively for studies and research to find possible sites.

Okinawa's Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper reported on 20 May that the MoD has narrowed the possible locations of the units to Amami Oshima, Miyakojima, and Ishigakijima because they have relatively large populations and well-established lifeline utilities.

COMMENT
The establishment of new units is designed to bolster the nation's defensive posture in its southwest and in particular to be prepared for potential "grey zone" security challenges posed by China.

Officials in Tokyo are involved in major discussions on how to respond to armed incidents that fall short of a full-scale attack on the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Hypothetical scenarios they are examining include the landing on the disputed islands of Chinese special forces disguised as fishermen.

(412 words)
posted by Kosuke at 18:10| Comment(0) | Jane's Defence Weekly
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