Defense Ministry Eyes Missile Deployment on Okinawa


Tokyo, March 18 (Jiji Press)—Japan's Defense Ministry is considering deploying land-to-ship missiles on the main island of Okinawa Prefecture, given Chinese warships' repeated navigation in waters between the island of Okinawa and Miyakojima, another island in the prefecture, informed sources said Sunday.

The ministry has been proceeding with a plan to deploy the 200-kilometer-range missiles on Miyakojima and Ishigakijima, also in Okinawa, and Amami-Ōshima, an island in the Kyūshū prefecture of Kagoshima.

Because Okinawa island is some 300 kilometers away from Miyakojima, some waters between the two islands will be out of the range of the missiles to be positioned on Miyakojima, ministry officials pointed out.

China recognizes the passage between the two islands, called Miyako Strait, as a "defense line" to stop the US forces' advance in a military contingency. It is also a strategic route for the Chinese military to access the Pacific Ocean.

Japan spotted four Chinese naval ships passing through the strait in November 2008 and a Chinese aircraft carrier doing so in December 2016. In January this year, a submarine believed to be from the Chinese navy was found cruising underwater in a contiguous zone around Miyakojima. Flights of Chinese warplanes, including bombers, over the strait have also been confirmed.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

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