Taipei [Taiwan], August 5 (ANI): Japan is planning to deploy missile units on an island 300 kilometers off the coast of Taiwan to counter China's growing naval presence in the area and defend against a potential Chinese attack.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Citing the Japanese media, Taiwan News 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 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, reported Taiwan News.
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, reported Taiwan News.
Meanwhile, China continues to claim that the Senkaku Islands are the country's 'inherent territory'.
In the early 2010s, China and Japan were mired in a territorial row over the Senkakus. Beijing has rapidly built up artificial islands with military infrastructure in the region, in its claim of sovereignty over almost the entire maritime region.
Moreover, China has conflicting territorial claims with four of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam -- as well as Taiwan in the South China Sea. (ANI)