Japan formally asks Ishigaki Island to host JGSDF units

November 27, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

Vice-Minister of Defense Kenji Wakamiya talked to Ishigaki mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama on November 26, and formally asked for the go-ahead to deploy units of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) to Ishigaki island. In the meeting, Wakamiya said the Japanese government selected Hiraeomata as the candidate area where JGSDF units will be deployed and the government is considering the deployment of 500 to 600 JGSDF members. Nakayama said, “I would like to talk to the city assembly members and citizens and then make a decision. I have accepted the proposition for now.” However, Nakayma did not make clear his own thoughts on whether to accept the JGSDF deployment to the island.

Wakamiya explained the Japanese government would deploy a civil disturbance unit, which initially reacts to emergency situations, as well as units operating land-to-sea missiles and ground-to-air missiles. Wakamiya said, “Deployment of JGSDF units to Ishigaki island will improve deterrents against attacks, allow JGSDF members to swiftly aid disaster victims when disaster strikes, and contribute to securing the safety of local people.” Wakayama explained the reasons for deploying the JGSDF members to Ishigaki as: 1) it is located in the middle of the Sakishima Islands, which make it possible for the JGSDF members to be the initial response to emergency situations; 2) the island has enough acreage for hosting JGSDF units and is equipped with an airport and harbors; and 3) provides infrastructure for hosting the JGSDF members and their families.

Nakayama said, “I understood the importance of the national security, and Self-Defense Forces in the Nansei Islands in terms of national defense and disaster prevention. I would like to decide whether to host the JGSDF units after disclosing the information to the citizens and continuous discussions.” After the meeting, Nakayama talked to the press, saying, “I cannot tell you whether I will support the deployment at the moment.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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