Govt plans to build 130 ammo depots to enhance SDF capabilities 

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Defense Ministry

The government plans to construct about 130 new ammunition depots across the country by 2035 in order to strengthen the Self-Defense Forces’ ability to sustain operation, according to sources in the government and ruling parties.

In addition to conventional ammunition, the new facilities will mainly store long-range standoff missiles, which will play a key role in the SDF’s ability to counterattack and destroy enemy missile sites for self-defense purposes. The shared use of the U.S. military’s ammunition depot in Okinawa Prefecture will also be explored.

The Defense Ministry plans to build approximately 90 ammunition storage facilities for the Ground SDF and 40 for the Maritime SDF. The first goal is to build 60 to 70 depots over the next five years.

The government is planning to clearly state the possession of counterstrike capabilities in three security-related documents, including the National Security Strategy, which is scheduled to be revised in the middle of this month.

The counterattack capabilities will include an improved version of the GSDF’s Type 12 surface-to-ship missile and U.S.-made Tomahawk cruise missiles. The longer-range missiles are larger, so new or expanded storage facilities will be needed. The quantity of ammunition, which is considered inadequate, will also be greatly increased.

According to the Defense Ministry, there are approximately 1,400 ammunition depots across Japan, but they are disproportionately located in northern areas such as Hokkaido.

In addition to establishing a system to store ammunition dispersed throughout the country, the ministry will also focus on creating ammo storage facilities in the Nansei Islands, with a contingency in Taiwan in mind.

Since the understanding of local governments is essential for the construction and expansion of such facilities, the Defense Ministry intends to carefully select regions and obtain their understanding.

In Okinawa Prefecture, where there is a particularly high concentration of U.S. military bases in Japan, opposition is expected, as it would lead to a new burden for the residents.

The ministry is considering joint use of the U.S. military’s Kadena Ammunition Storage Area on central Okinawa Island, which is adjacent to the U.S. Kadena Air Base, as it believes it will not be easy to build any new ammunition depots on other part of the island. Toward this, the ministry plans to accelerate coordination with the U.S. side in the future.