The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) has deployed surface-to-air and anti-ship missile batteries along with about 340 troops to Miyakojima Island, the Japanese Ministry of Defence (Bōei-shō) reported on 26 March. Miyako Island is located approximately 300 kilometers distant from the main island of Okinawa, Japan. Miyakojima has suddenly become involved in an obvious movement toward militarization to bolster the country’s defence capabilities amid China’s growing assertiveness near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.
In July 2013, Chinese military aircraft for the first time passed between the main island of Okinawa and Miyakojima island. In December 2016, China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, also passed the same area. In response to these moves, the Defense Ministry in March 2016 deployed about 160 troops of a coastal patrol unit in the country’s westernmost point, Yonagunijima island in Okinawa Prefecture, moving ahead with reinforcing the defense capability on the Nansei Islands, other than the main island of Okinawa.
China is deploying anti-ship ballistic missiles and long-range cruise missiles. Tokyo plans to counter China’s moves by extending the range of its missiles. At the Miyakojima base, about 340 personnel of a security unit have been deployed in advance, while personnel of Type 03 medium-dange surface-to-air missile and Type 12 surface-to-ship missile units deployed in fiscal 2019. Within 200 km from Miyakojima are the Senkaku Islands, which are controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing, and the Yaeyama island chain.
The Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile is a truck-mounted anti-ship missile developed by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 2012. The weapon is networked, where initial and mid-course targeting can be provided by other platforms, reduced lifecycle costs, and a range of 200 km. The Type 03 Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (Chu-SAM) is a Japanese developed surface-to-air missile system currently in service with the Japan Army as JGSDF. The SAM’s vehicle chassis is based on the Kato Works Ltd/Mitsubishi Heavy Industries NK series heavy crane truck.