Japan plans to deploy troops near disputed islands

Tokyo, Nov 27 (IANS) The Japanese government is planning to deploy a contingent of 500 troops on Ishigaki Island over which it is embroiled in a territorial dispute with China, the media reported on Friday.

It seeks to deploy a unit of its self defence unit by 2019, defence ministry officials said.

The contingent would serve as a rapid response team in case of an infiltration by foreign troops, and also take charge of operations and maintenance of a missile system that the government wants to install on the island, Efe news reported.

Ishigaki, a popular tourist destination with 48,000 inhabitants, has jurisdiction over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which the Chinese call Diaoyu islands, and is situated around 150 km (93 miles) from Uotsuri, the largest island of Senkaku.

Situated in the South China Sea, the Senkaku Islands are uninhabited and have a total surface area of around seven sq.km, and is believed to have rich marine and energy resources.

Japan has decided to strengthen its military capacity with regard to Senkaku owing to an escalation of disputes with China from 2012 onwards, when Tokyo decided to nationalise several islets.

Since then, Chinese boats have intruded into the waters between four and 28 times a month, according to the Japanese coast guard.


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