Offshore Islands Defense

Q1 Why is offshore islands defense important?

A1.Japan’s geographical characteristics are marked by surrounding sea, long coastlines, and numerous islands (6852 islands). The total area of Japan’s exclusive economic zones is approximately 4.47 million square kilometers (sixth largest in the world) and sea lanes of communications are a vital asset of our country. Offshore island defense, the security of surrounding sea and airspace are both very important in times of both peace and emergency.

Q2 Tell us about measures taken by the Self-Defense Forces to defend offshore islands from attacks.

A2.In order to defend offshore islands from attacks, it is vital to detect early signs of attack through such activities as intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance, which are conducted by the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) on a continuous basis.

If signs of attack are detected in advance, operations will be conducted to prevent invasion by enemy forces, and when no signs of aggression are detected in advance and islands are occupied, operations will be conducted to recover the islands.

Q3 What specific intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance activities are conducted continuously?

A3.The Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) monitors vessels traveling in the seas surrounding Hokkaido, the Sea of Japan, and the East China Sea using P-3C Fixed-wing patrol aircraft. In addition, the Ground Self-Defense Force’s (GSDF) coastal surveillance units and MSDF’s security posts conduct 24-hour monitoring. Also, Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) continuously monitors Japan’s surrounding airspace by its radar sites.

Furthermore, surveillance activities are carried out with the flexible use of destroyers and aircraft (E-767, E-2C, P-3C, EP-3, and OP-3C) as required. Thereby, a state of readiness is constantly maintained in order to respond quickly to emergencies in areas surrounding Japan.

Q4 Tell us about specific operations in response to an attack on Japan’s offshore islands.

A4.Joint operations of integrated Ground, Maritime, and Air SDF are particularly important.

Such joint operations will enable the SDF to swiftly deploy and mass mobile troops, and to prevent and eliminate enemy forces through cooperation with routinely deployed troops. When implementing such operations, it is important to establish air-defense preparedness in the airspace of islands, and to secure air superiority, command of the sea, and safety of maritime transportation routes in the seas and airspace surrounding Japan.

Q5 Tell us about initiatives currently taken by the Ministry of Defense and SDF.

A5.Specifically, SDF are holding deliberations regarding the establishment of a new unit on the southwestern islands, which would be in charge of initial response to attack.

Furthermore, in order to secure the environment that enables continuous operation of early warning aircraft (E-2C) in the southwestern region, SDF are planning to reinforce intelligence gathering and surveillance systems at Naha Air Base through the improvement of necessary infrastructure. Moreover, SDF are acquiring transport aircraft and surface-to-surface ship missiles in order to achieve the rapid deployment and response capabilities of units, as well as conducting exercises related to deterrence and response to attacks on offshore islands.

SDF also conduct joint field training exercises with U.S. forces aimed at acquisition of knowledge and skills as well as establishment of mutual cooperation procedures.

Joint field training exercises with U.S. forces
Joint field training exercises with U.S. forces
Helicasting training
Helicasting training
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