Vice defense minister asks for mayor’s cooperation to deploy ground force on Miyako Islands

June 13, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of Defense Ryota Takeda met with Miyakojima City Mayor Toshihiko Shimoji on June 12 at the city hall. Takeda asked for the mayor’s cooperation to deploy a security force of the Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) on the islands. The vice minister said, “We would like you to accept the deployment plan for an initial response force to the Miyako Islands.” He also asked for the mayor’s cooperation to survey suitable sites for the force. Mayor Shimoji answered that he would like to hear to the views of citizens on this request. However, he showed a certain understanding to the proposal in terms of defense and disaster-relief missions for the islands.

It is the first time that the Ministry of Defense executive has met with a municipal head to discuss deployment of the JGSDF’s Area Security Force to Okinawa. The vice-minister stressed the importance of stationing the military force to fill a gap in troop presence in the Ryukyu Islands. He stressed the Self-Defense Forces’ capability to respond to disaster to gain the understanding of local people. He said, “We would like to speed up research work to defend the local people. The mayor said, suggesting that there is tension in the waters around Okinawa, “It is very important that the Ground Self-Defense Force can defend the islands.” However, he said he would respect the opinion of the city council.

The ministry of defense is considering placing a force consisting of 350-400 personnel, the same number of the JGSDF Tsushima Area Security Force in Nagasaki.

(English translation by T&CT)

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