Japan’s far-flung island defense plan seeks to turn tables on China

(From Reuters)

Japan is fortifying its far-flung island chain in the East China Sea under an evolving strategy that aims to turn the tables on China’s navy and keep it from ever dominating the Western Pacific Ocean, Japanese military and government sources said.

Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers land on Eniyabanare Island during a military drill, off Setouchi town on the southern Japanese island of Amami Oshima in this file photo

Japan Self-Defense Force soldiers land on Eniyabanare Island during a military drill, off Setouchi town on the southern Japanese island of Amami Oshima in this file photo

The United States, believing its Asian allies – and Japan in particular – must help contain growing Chinese military power, has pushed Japan to abandon its decades-old bare-bones home island defense in favor of exerting its military power in Asia.

Tokyo is responding by stringing a line of anti-ship, anti-aircraft missile batteries along 200 islands in the East China Sea stretching 1,400 km (870 miles) from the country’s mainland toward Taiwan.

Interviews with a dozen military planners and government policymakers reveal that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s broader goal to beef up the military has evolved to include a strategy to dominate the sea and air surrounding the remote islands.

While the installations are not secret, it is the first time such officials have spelled out that the deployment will help keep China at bay in the Western Pacific and amounts to a Japanese version of the “anti-access/area denial” doctrine, known as “A2/AD” in military jargon, that China is using to try to push the United States and its allies out of the region.

To be sure, there is nothing to stop Chinese warships from sailing through under international law, but they will have to do so in within the crosshairs of Japanese missiles, the officials told Reuters. Read More



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