Wed, Nov 10, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Japan may place troops close to disputed islands

AFP, TOKYO

Tokyo is considering placing troops on a remote Japanese island in the East China Sea to monitor China’s expanded naval activities that have worried its neighbors, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported yesterday.

The defense ministry wishes to create a “coastal security surveillance team” with the main mission to radar-monitor Chinese naval activities, the newspaper said, citing ministry sources.

Japanese defense officials were considering placing about 200 troops on Yonaguni, Japan’s westernmost island, roughly 100km east of Taiwan, the paper said.

The Japanese military regularly sends patrol aircraft to the region, but has no permanent monitoring facility there, the report said.

However, a defense ministry official denied the report, saying no such decision has been made.

Increased Chinese naval activity has led Japan into mulling the deployment of more forces to its scattered southern islands and away from Cold War-era locations in the north near Russia.

In an incident on April 23, a large Chinese flotilla ventured near a group of disputed islands close to Okinawa in the East China Sea and sent out a helicopter that buzzed Japanese navy ships monitoring their movement. Tokyo lodged a protest with Beijing after the helicopter flew within 90m of one of its ships.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER

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