Japan’s E. China Sea Military Buildup Continues

NATIONAL INTEREST — He who lives by the military buildup, dies by the military buildup. Though the recent visit to Beijing by Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida suggests a thaw in Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations, there remains a gulf—or more accurately, a sea—between the two Asian powerhouses.

China’s growing naval activism in the East China Sea has inevitably sparked reaction from Japan, as Tokyo is busy raising a defensive wall along its southern flank, coinciding with one of the most vulnerable sections of the so-called first island chain, to control and deter possible aggressive moves by the Chinese navy.

On the heels of new security legislation allowing Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to engage in armed conflicts overseas for the first time since the end of World War II, evidence is mounting that Tokyo is intent on closing in on China through a variety of ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and antimissile facilities. Key to this strategy is the militarization of the Nansei Island Chain, Japan’s southernmost territories, which includes the prefectures of Okinawa and Kagoshima.


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