4 SDF facilities to move command centers underground

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The main gate of the Defense Ministry is seen in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.
The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Defense Ministry is planning to move command centers underground at four Self-Defense Forces facilities by fiscal 2028 and implement measures against electromagnetic pulse attacks at five Air Self-Defense Force bases by fiscal 2029 in preparation for such situations as an emergency in Taiwan, according to government sources.

The ministry also plans to begin building evacuation shelters for residents of Okinawa Prefecture’s Sakishima Islands, which is close to Taiwan.

New underground command centers are to be established at the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Camp Naha and Camp Yonaguni in Okinawa Prefecture and Camp Kengun in Kumamoto Prefecture, and the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Maizuru District Headquarters in Kyoto Prefecture.

The facilities must maintain their functions even in the event of an enemy attack as they are all important bases for dispatching and commanding troops and ships, according to the ministry.

The proximity to Taiwan was taken into account for facilities in Naha and Yonaguni, amid China’s mounting military pressure in the region.

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack could involve a nuclear explosion in the sky. China and North Korea are said to be developing technology for such an attack, which would disable all electronic devices with powerful electromagnetic waves.

If electromagnetic waves disable control radar, fighter jets will not be able to take off or land so the government plans to take countermeasures including installing EMP filters to protect electrical systems.

The government first plans to install the system at Nyutabaru Air Base in Miyazaki Prefecture, and then at bases in Tsuiki in Fukuoka Prefecture, Chitose in Hokkaido, Fuchu in Tokyo and Naha in Okinawa Prefecture.

The new National Security Strategy approved by the Cabinet on Dec. 16 states that “major defense facilities” will be strengthened as part of efforts to fundamentally enhance the nation’s defense capabilities.

The government has allocated approximately ¥36.4 billion in the initial budget for the next fiscal year to cover the expenses for measures including building underground command centers, and it plans to proceed with site surveys and other measures in due course.

Regarding the development of evacuation shelters, the government is considering acquiring land on Yonaguni and Ishigaki islands to construct facilities that can be used as shelters for residents in an emergency, and for SDF training and other purposes during peacetime.

There is a proposal for the central government to subsidize the municipal government to build underground shelters in public facilities such as gymnasiums on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture.