Chinese military activity prompts Japan to move radar unit closer to Taiwan and Senkaku Islands

About 20 members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s 53rd Guard Team accompanied a TPS-102 radar unit to Yonaguni Island on Friday, April 1, 2022. (Japan Air Self-Defense Force)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force has repositioned a mobile radar unit to its southern island chain to bolster defenses due to increased Chinese activity in the area.

About 20 members of the 53rd guard team accompanied a TPS-102 radar unit to Yonaguni Island on Friday, according to a Self-Defense Force spokesman. The island, about 70 miles off the east coast of Taiwan, is Japan’s westernmost territory.

Troops left Miyako Island, about 140 miles to the east, the spokesman said Monday.

The move “will bolster the defense of our country at a time when neighboring countries are stepping up their activities around our country,” the spokesperson said, referring to China, whose coastguards frequently enter waters claimed by Japan around the Senkaku Islands, about 125 miles. north of Yonaguni.

“Not only are their activities increasing, but also their scope of activity is expanding,” the spokesperson said.

Government spokespersons in Japan generally speak to the media on condition of anonymity as a condition of their employment.

The spokesperson declined to provide details on the TPS-102 radar system, except to say it can detect “anything that flies.” The cylindrical unit is mounted on the back of a truck.

Japan launched its aircraft 571 times to intercept incoming Chinese drones, fighters, bombers and surveillance planes during three quarters of the 2021 fiscal year, which ended on Thursday, according to Air Self-Defense data. Strength. That’s 113 more than the entire previous fiscal year. Data for the last quarter is not yet available.

In March 2019, Japan deployed troops to three new bases in the south of the country aimed at bolstering defenses around the Ryukyu Islands – also known as the Nansei Islands – which stretch south of Japan’s four main islands towards Taiwan.

About 400 soldiers were stationed in a new garrison on Miyako. Plans call for 800 troops at the base eventually.

Another 560 troops have been placed at two bases in Amami Oshima, Kagoshima Prefecture, north of Okinawa but south of Japan’s main islands. A new command is also planned for Ishigaki Island, which lies between Yonaguni and Miyako.

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force base with about 160 coastal surveillance troops was placed in Yonaguni in 2016, a Self-Defense Force spokesman said Monday.

The Ground Self-Defense Force plans to deploy an electronic warfare unit to Yonaguni as early as fiscal 2023, its spokesman said.

Japan is strengthening its defenses on the southern island chain in response to Chinese activity, the Air Self-Defense Force spokesman said.