The Japanese government is considering the deployment of anti-ship missiles in the country's southern prefecture of Okinawa to counter China, Japan's Asahi newspaper reported Tuesday.
According to the outlet, the Japanese Defense Ministry, as well as the country's National Security Council, will decide the issue by year's end. If the plan is adopted Japan's military will deploy anti-ship missiles with a range of up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) in Okinawa.
Tokyo could also deploy missiles capable of hitting targets at range of about 100 kilometers (62 miles), the Kyodo news agency reported citing government sources.
Japan has become increasingly concerned over China's rising activities in the East China Sea, especially near Miyako Island and the disputed Senkaku Islands, also known by their Chinese name as the Diaoyu Islands.
Earlier this year, Japan's Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama lodged a formal protest with China's Foreign Ministry over the latter's “provocative” actions, after China's warships and a submarine entered the waters near the disputed islands.
The uninhabited islands were historically part of China before being annexed by Japan following their victory during the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895.
Since then, China has objected to Japanese activity, including nationalizing several of the islands in 2012 and building a lighthouse on one in 2014.
China has continued to sail naval vessels through the disputed waters, with the number of such cases reaching 114 in 2017, according to the Japanese Coast Guard.