Ja­pan to build mil­i­tary site near dis­puted is­lands

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ja­pan has be­gun con­struc­tion work on a mil­i­tary radar sta­tion near a string of is­lands that is at the cen­tre of a ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute with China.

Cor­re­spon­dents say the move will anger Bei­jing as it may al­low Ja­pan to ex­pand sur­veil­lance near the Chi­nese main­land.

The new base - on Yon­a­guni is­land - is lo­cated just 150km (90 miles) from the Ja­pane­se­held Senkaku is­land group, claimed by China as the Diaoyu is­lands.

About 150 per­son­nel are due to be de­ployed on Yon­a­guni within two years.

Dur­ing a cer­e­mony to mark the start of project, Ja­panese De­fence Min­is­ter It­sunori On­odera sug­gested his coun­try’s mil­i­tary pres­ence could be ex­tended to other is­lands in the re­gion.

“This is the first de­ploy­ment since the US re­turned Ok­i­nawa [in 1972] and calls for us to be more on guard are grow­ing,” Mr On­odera told re­porters.

“I want to build an oper­a­tion able to prop­erly de­fend is­lands that are part of Ja­pan’s ter­ri­tory.”

Ten­sions be­tween Ja­pan and China rose last year, af­ter Bei­jing im­posed an Air De­fence Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone above dis­puted is­lands in the East China Sea - in­clud­ing the Senkakus.

The move was also con­demned by the US.

Sev­eral coun­tries claim com­pet­ing sovereignty over is­lands, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea.

De­fence Min­is­ter On­odera sug­gested Ja­pan may sta­tion troops on other is­lands.

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