The local newspaper based in Okinawa Prefecture Okinawatimes reported that the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) garrison at Miyakojima (Miyako Island) deployed a Type 03 air defense missile system during a training exercise on November 19. It could be seen on the photo that four other Type 88 surface-to-ship missile launchers are also deployed on the island. The Miyako Strait between the island and Okinawa mainland are problematic due to their width to allow Chinese ships to pass through, without invoking UNCLOS rights. However, such passages puts Japan on high alert due to fears of territory being cut off and generally degrades bilateral relations. Miyako-jima lies approximately 300 kilometres (186 mi) southwest of Okinawa Island.
The Type 88 Surface-to-Ship Missile is a truck-mounted anti-ship missile developed by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in the late 1980s. It is a land-based version of the air-launched Type 80 (ASM-1) missile; in turn it was developed into the ship-launched Type 90 (SSM-1B) missile. The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force bought 54 transporter erector launchers, each carrying six Type 88 missiles, for use as coastal batteries. With a range of 180 km (97 nmi; 112 mi), high subsonic speed and 225 kg (496 lb) warhead, it is similar to the US Harpoon missile. In 2015, an upgrade of the Type 88 became operational called the Type 12. The Type 12 features INS with mid-course GPS guidance and better precision due to enhanced TERCOM and target discrimination capabilities. The weapon is networked, where initial and mid-course targeting can be provided by other platforms, and also boasts shorter reload times, reduced lifecycle costs, and a range of 200 km (110 nmi; 120 mi).
The Type 03 Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile or (SAM-4 or Chu-SAM) is a Japanese developed surface-to-air missile system currently in service with the JGSDF. The SAM’s vehicle chassis is based on the Kato Works Ltd/Mitsubishi Heavy Industries NK series heavy crane truck. It uses a state-of-the-art active electronically scanned array radar. The Chu-SAM air defense system is based on 8×8 cross country unarmored trucks, and includes a command center, radar unit, launcher, and transloader, with each unit equipped with six missiles that travel at Mach 2.5. The system can track up to 100 targets simultaneously and target 12 at the same time, engaging fighter jets, helicopters, and cruise missiles. The Type 03 missile also planned to be converted to the long-range ship-to-air missile with a separable rocket booster.
It was confirmed that the Japanese Ministry of Defense was in advanced planning regarding the permanent deployment of a JGSDF security unit to Miyakojima, to begin sometime in fiscal year 2016. This is part of ongoing efforts to improve the defenses of the Nansei Islands. A JGSDF security unit is a battalion sized force, of up to 500 personnel, whose role on Miyakojima will include providing the initial response to large-scale disasters in the area as well as acting as a rapid response force to counterattacks on remote islands within its area of responsibility. Tokyo has currently earmarked ¥21.2 billion yen ($205 million USD) in FY2021 to build new Japan Coast Guard patrol boats and helicopters for the region, with plans to assign 22 ships of over 1,000 tons in the region by 2024.