To the end of having a stronger security force around the Senkaku Islands, the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) is set to create a unit composed of 600 members, the sole mission of which is to secure the waters surrounding the islands, sources said. Additionally, the JCG will add 12 patrol ships in the area for better management and handling of Chinese vessels, who are spotted frequently in the area, that intrude into the territorial waters of Japan over a prolonged period of time.
Four 1,000-ton-class patrol vessels are already in the works using reserve funds for the current fiscal year. The costs for the construction of six new ships of similar type have been included in the supplementary budget approved by the Cabinet on January 15. The two remaining ships to complete the targeted 12 will be taken from one of JCG’s existing Patrol Vessel Large with Helicopter (PLH), which will be refurbished for this new purpose. An estimated 40 people are said to man the 1000-ton patrol vessels. The JGC intends to enter a request for an additional 500 members from fiscals 2014 through 2015. Combined with the strong forces in the 2 existing PLH, the size of the new unit totals some 600 people. For optimum operational efficiency, it was reported that the JCG will adopt a rotational system for crew members.
The Ishigaki Port in Okinawa, the base nearest the Senkakus, is reportedly where five large patrol vessels will be anchored. At present though, it only has room for two. Sources said that the JCG has already began coordinating with the Ishigaki city government, as well as other entities through the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, for this purpose.
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