With the increased maritime activities by Chinese vessels in territorial waters near the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, the Japanese government has now deployed an early warning patrol unit in the southern part of Okinawa Prefecture. The unit composed of four E-2C aircrafts is aimed at increasing monitoring of Chinese vessel movements in the area.
Scrambles against Chinese aircrafts in the area has increased in recent months, prompting the Air Self Defense Forces (ASDF) to restation permanently the unit to the Naha airbase in Okinawa from Misawa airbase in Aomori. Japan is engaged in a bitter territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands, which the Chinese claims sovereignty over and calls Diaoyu. Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera led the launching ceremony of the unit in Naha. In his speech, he reminded the ASDF of the “dangerous situation” they are in as China continues their attempts to “change the status quo by force and threaten the rule of law could trigger emergencies.”
The planes in the Naha airbase are equipped with high-performance radar units that will intensify the monitoring of the area. 130 ASDF will be assigned to the unit to man the region. Another unit will be placed in the Hamamatsu airbase in Shizuoka that will also operate an air warning and control system. Late last week, the Defense Ministry also announced that they were deploying 100 soldiers and restarting the lookout point and radar base at the Yonaguni Island, which is also located near the Senkakus.
[via Global Post]
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