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    In this Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013 file photo, Japanese Coast Guard boat and vessel sail alongside Japanese activists' fishing boat, not in photo, warning the activists away from a group of disputed islands called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan

    Japan to Deploy Troops to Ishigaki Island, Near Disputed Zone With China

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    Asia & Pacific
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    The Japanese government plans to deploy 500 troops to Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture, and gain a military presence in the East China Sea.

    Japan wants to deploy 500 troops to Ishigaki Island, in Okinawa Prefecture in the East China Sea, the Japanese press has reported.

    Last week Japan's deputy defense minister Kenji Wakamiya visited the island to meet with the mayor of Ishigaki and explain the defense ministry's plans to send 500 Ground Self-Defense Force troops to Ishigaki. 

    The island belongs to the Yaeyama Islands groups in southwestern Japan, and is close to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, which are controlled by Japan. The uninhabited islands are the subject of a territorial dispute with China, which also claims them as its territory.

    The Japanese government has decided to delay the deployment of 500 troops to Ishigaki because of the Okinawa gubernatorial election in November last year, reported Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun. 

    A senior Defense Ministry official told the newspaper that the government decided the prefecture's burden "shouldn't be increased," as residents there have already expressed fierce opposition to a US army base in the area.

    Before then, around 150 coastal monitoring troops will be deployed to the island of Yonaguni in Okinawa, as well as security and missile units of some 800 troops in total on the island of Miyakojima in Okinawa, by April 2016.

    Around 550 troops will be deployed on the island of Amami Oshima in Kagoshima Prefecture by the end of 2018.

    This year, the Japanese government plans to deploy a 150-person coastal surveillance unit to the Japan's most western point, Yonagunijima Island in Okinawa Prefecture.


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