Japan plans to build an evacuation shelter for residents of a remote Okinawa island in the event of a military emergency near the country’s southwest Nansei Island chain or Taiwan, government sources said Thursday. .
The need for such a facility comes as Japan’s Self-Defense Forces have expanded the scale of deployment to remote islands in the South Island Prefecture, with Yonaguni about 110 kilometers from Taiwan, amid reinforcement China’s military.
The government has deemed it necessary to provide the shelter, given that there are no such facilities on the islands, the sources said.
Tensions have recently increased near Taiwan following a visit in early August by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the third-highest ranking US official, to the self-governing democratic island that China considers as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
A contingency in Taiwan is of particular concern for Japan, an ally of the United States, given its proximity to its southwestern islands, including the Senkakus. Chinese Coast Guard ships have repeatedly intruded into Japanese waters near islets controlled by Tokyo and claimed by Beijing in the East China Sea.
Other measures to protect citizens in emergencies are expected to be included in Japan’s national security strategy, which Prime Minister Fumio Kishida aims to update by the end of this year to deal with the increasingly difficult security environment in the region.
This would be the first revision of the long-term policy guidance on security and diplomacy since it was adopted in 2013.
The Cabinet Secretariat has requested a budget for fiscal year 2023 starting next April to conduct a survey of the specifications for a shelter capable of withstanding military attack.
In the next few years, the government will decide whether and when to build the shelter, in accordance with the wishes of local governments, the sources said.
“As China continues to take coercive measures, the construction of emergency facilities is essential,” said one of the sources.
The evacuation of the inhabitants of the remote islands takes time. According to an estimate based on the Civil Defense Law, it would take nearly 10 days to airlift a total of 65,000 people including residents and tourists from islands belonging to Ishigaki City and Taketomi City, both close to Taiwan, by commercial planes.
In July, a group of Okinawa municipalities demanded that the prefectural government take action to help evacuate citizens in the event of an emergency.
Category: Japan, Taiwan