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Japan to build new military facility on Miyako Island

By Elizabeth Shim
Japan to build new military facility on Miyako Island
Japan's military is fortifying defenses in the East China Sea. Photo by MC1 Michael Russell/U.S. Navy/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Japan will begin construction in October on new missile-related units and ammunition storage facilities on an island near the contested Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Tokyo's defense ministry said.

The facility will likely open next year on Miyako Island where Japan's military has already acquired rights to use a quarry site, the Sankei Shimbun reported Friday.

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The ammunition to be stored on the island will be for the use of Japanese security units as Chinese activities escalate in the East China Sea.

Armed Chinese coast guard vessels and armed fishing boats have been seen regularly in Japan-claimed waters near the Senkakus, also known as Diaoyutai in China, according to The Washington Post on Tuesday.

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The report of new military construction comes after Japan's ground self-defense force opened a base in March housing 700 to 800 troops, anti-ship and surface-to-air missile batteries, and radar and intelligence-gathering facilities, according to The Post.

The base is unpopular with the residents of Miyako Island, and the ammunition stored on the island had to be moved out, according to Japanese reports.

The new facility will house the ammunition that was temporarily removed from Miyako.

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Japan's coast guard spends significant resources warding off Chinese fishing boats. Fighter jets and vessels are being dispatched every day to "counter some new Chinese provocation and ward off intruding boats and planes," according to The Post.

Reports of the construction and a defense wall comes at a time when Japan is planning a new electronic warfare unit as a check again Chinese maneuvers in disputed areas of the East China Sea.

By late 2020, Japan will operate an electronic warfare or EW unit with about 80 troops, according to the Sankei. EW can be applied from air, sea or land, and can target people, communication, radar or other assets.

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Japan retains an electronic warfare unit in Hokkaido, near Russian territory. The future EW unit in Kumamoto Prefecture could be integrated under a single command with the existing unit.

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