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Yonaguni asks Self Defense Forces for troop deployment

Date Posted: 2009-07-09

Yonaguni Island’s residents want Japanese troops on their shores, and they’ve taken their case to Tokyo to get results.

Moriyoshi Hokama, Yonaguni Town’s mayor, led a delegation to Tokyo, where they asked the Minister of the Japanese Defense Agency to send troops to their island. Yasukazu Hamada says “It’s very possible and important to deploy self defense forces to the southwest archipelago to defend the country,” adding that while there have never been troops there before, it deserves a careful study about sending JSDF forces to Yonaguni.

Yonaguni is the country’s westernmost island, situated only 110 kilometers from Taiwan in the East China Sea. Yonaguni Island is part of the Ryukyu Islands, and sits less than 160 kilometers from another set of Japanese islands whose ownership is being contested by both Taiwan and China. Japan calls the islands Senkaku, while Chinese claim them as Diaoyutai and the Taiwanese insist that the islands, Tiaoyutai, belong to them.

Defense Minister Hamada says having Self Defense Forces on Yonaguni Island would be good “not just from the defense standpoint, but because of local requests for disaster management and assistance.” He says GSDF deployments could aid in defending the Ryukyu Islands, and thinks a national defense plan could be developed within five years.

Besides bases on Okinawa, there are currently Air Self Defense Forces running radar on both Kume Island and in Miyakojima City.

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