JAPAN: Police unit created to defend islands
Japan is establishing a special police unit armed with automatic weapons to bolster defense of a group of East China Sea islands and other far-flung isles, the public broadcaster NHK reported. Japan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have long disputed which country owns the East China Sea islands.
The police unit will be based on the southern island of Okinawa, 420 kilometers east of the disputed outcrops, which are controlled by Japan and known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyus in the PRC.
“Assuming scenarios that include illegal landing by an armed group, highly trained members equipped with submachine guns will be deployed,” NHK said.
Japan’s military and Coast Guard have boosted their postures around the disputed islands, pictured, but this will be the first time the police have set up a unit in the region to help defend them, NHK said.
The National Police Agency, in an annual budget request, sought 159 additional officers in Okinawa and Fukuoka, another southern prefecture, to boost its capability to respond to situations on remote islands.
Japan’s relations with the PRC have long been strained by the island dispute.