Move aims to seal off ‘first island chain’: analysts

Tokyo boosts missile defense

Japan is moving to strengthen its military capability to block the Chinese navy with more advanced surface-to-ship missiles (SSM) scheduled to be deployed in the country’s southwest in 2016.

Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force will start to deploy Type 12 SSMs in 2016 in Kumamoto prefecture on the island of Kyushu to “guard from China’s attack to some extent,” the Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported Sunday.

A total of 196 missiles, worth 30.9 billion yen ($302 million), will be deployed to Kumamoto. Research and development work on this advanced type of missile was based on the Type 88 missile, which has a firing range of 150 kilometers. The type 12 missile’s firing range can reach up to 200 kilometers, according to Sankei.

Type 12 SSMs have also been deployed in Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido and Aomori, the northernmost prefecture of Honshu, to “prevent military threats from Russia.”

According to the paper, Tokyo believes that if a war breaks out between China and Japan, China would deploy vessels carrying amphibian chariots, frigates and guided missile destroyers to deny access to the waters surrounding Japan’s outlying islands. “The SSMs would contain such military actions to some extent,” it said.

…Li added that the advancing technology of Japan could soon pose a threat even if missiles were only deployed at one end of the strait. “The missiles could also become an effective weapon during wartime. But this is more a blockade along the first island chain where Miyako is located,” Li said.

The first island chain stretches from the Japanese archipelago through the island of Taiwan to the Philippines. It encircles China, and the US came to regard it as an important barrier to containing China and other communist countries in the 1950s, Xinhua reported.

The placement of the missiles is also seen as a move to assist the Asian pivot strategy of the US, Li noted. “Okinawa is armed with more elite weapons, including F22 jet fighters for emergency response,” Li said.

…The US is also unlikely to expand the Seventh Fleet given the complicated world situation that is diverting US attention, according to Lan.

Full article: Move aims to seal off ‘first island chain’: analysts (ECNS)

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