To boost its defenses against China in its southwestern archipelago, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) announced on 26 March that it had deployed troops and its latest anti-ship missile type to Miyakojima Island.
Miyakojima is located within the Ryukyu Arc that stretches southwest from Kyushu, and it’s collectively known as the Southwest Islands, the Nansei-shotō comprises several chains of semitropical, coral-fringed isles.
Japan is considering deploying anti-ship cruise missiles to Okinawa’s main island. In combination with earlier plans to deploy anti-ship missiles to several other of Japan’s southwestern islands, these additional missile batteries would help Japan seal one of the major routes the Chinese navy would need to break out into the western Pacific in the event of a conflict.
Government sources told the Asahi Shimbun proposals are being developed to deploy a battery of Type 12 anti-ship missiles to Okinawa-jima. The same anti-ship missiles, along with air-defense missiles, are already set to be deployed to three other of Japan’s southwestern islands, Miyako-jima, Ishigaki-shima, and Anami-Oshima.
This summer, the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and the U.S. Army will sink a target ship using coastal defense anti-ship missiles at this year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise in Hawaii. The U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps are both experimenting with concepts to leverage land-based power against offshore fleets.
For its part, Japan is reportedly looking to build a new generation ASM-3 of more capable, longer-ranged anti-ship missiles. But as word of these new missile batteries for Okinawa indicates, Japan isn’t waiting for future technology to implement an archipelagic defense strategy that would keep China’s fleets bottled up inside the first island chain today.
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