Surveillance facility eyed for Pacific

BANGKOK – The Defense Ministry plans to build a communications intelligence facility on Iwoto Island in the Pacific to improve its ability to conduct surveillance on China and its growing military presence, a government source said Thursday.

The ministry’s budget request for next fiscal year includes part of the ¥12 billion needed to build the facility, which would come online in fiscal 2017, the source said. Iwoto, about 1,250 km south of Tokyo, used to be known as Iwojima and was the site of a terrible battle during World War II. Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera will visit the island early next month.

The ministry has similar facilities at six locations, including in Hokkaido, to intercept communications between ships and aircraft.

China has increased military operations in the Pacific in response to the sovereignty row over the Senkaku Islands, which has strained Japan-China relations. Chinese naval vessels circumnavigated the Japanese archipelago in July for the first time and two Chinese bombers flew to the Pacific earlier this month.

Meanwhile, two Chinese Coast Guard ships entered Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands on Thursday morning, the Japan Coast Guard said. It was the 65th intrusion near the Japanese-controlled islets since the central government purchased most of the chain from their private owner last September, effectively nationalizing them.

Full article: Surveillance facility eyed for Pacific (Japan Times)

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