Japan’s Self-Defense Force opens radar station in Yonaguni
March 29, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On March 28, the Ministry of Defense opened a new military base and radar station for Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force on Yonaguni Island. About 160 personnel, who will be stationed at the base, arrived and an opening ceremony was held. With China’s maritime advances in mind, the government is taking measures to reinforce defense capabilities on the Nansei Islands. As part of this reinforcement, military personnel will monitor surrounding waters and airspace to track the activities of ships and aircrafts. This is the first time since Okinawa was returned to Japan that a new Self-Defense Force base has been opened in the prefecture.
Opinions among residents have been split regarding the new base. Last February, a referendum was held to allow the public to have a discussion on the pros and cons of the base. Although the majority is in support, friction still remains. On the opening day, there were around 15 residents carrying placards, protesting near the entrance of the base.
The Yonaguni coastal observation base consists of a radar unit, an observation unit, and a communication and intelligence unit. The new base located in the Kubura district of the island extends for about 25 hectares with an observation radar site and a barrack. A hectare of the base is located in Sonai District, where a radio tower was built.
In an interview, Daigo Shiomitsu, a Ground Self Defense Force lieutenant colonel responded, “There was a vacuum we needed to fill in the southwestern region. I believe it’s very significant that we have been stationed in Yonaguni to monitor the territory surrounding Japan, as well as to respond and deter, in all kinds of situations.”
(Translation by T&CT, Kaya Doi)
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