Standoff Missile Depot Construction Set to Start in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Major SDF sites where ammunition depots, other facilities are to be built from FY23 onward

The Defense Ministry plans to start building about 10 large ammunition depots at Self-Defense Forces facilities, including ones in Oita and Aomori prefectures, in fiscal 2023, several government sources have said.

These facilities are intended for storing standoff missiles, which are expected to play a key role in maintaining the country’s envisaged counterattack capability.

The ministry also plans to complete arrangements for conventional ammunition to be stored in locations dispersed across the country, including in the Nansei Islands, thereby strengthening the ability to sustain military operations.

Four of the 10 large new ammunition depots will be built at the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Vice-Camp Oita in Oita City, and the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Headquarters Ominato District in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture.

In addition, the ministry plans to begin studies to build anew six or more new large depots at other GSDF and MSDF facilities.

These facilities will be positioned as bases for the SDF’s mobile deployment capabilities and will also serve as bases for transporting missiles to the front lines in the event of an emergency. The government has allocated approximately ¥5.8 billion in its budget plan for fiscal 2023 for the construction of these facilities.

The ministry plans to build approximately 130 large ammunition storage facilities across the country by fiscal 2035, with the 10 depots representing the first step of the overall plan.

The missiles to be stored are long-range ones that can be launched from outside the range of an adversary, including an improved version of the GSDF’s Type 12 surface-to-ship guided missile and high-speed glide bombs envisaged for the defense of remote islands, which will be deployed to its units as early as in fiscal 2026. The U.S.-made Tomahawk cruise missiles, which the ministry plans to acquire, will also be stored there.

The ministry will also increase the amount of conventional ammunition, other than large-size ones, and promote the dispersed storage of ammunition by developing depots centering on the Nansei Islands region.

Currently, there are approximately 1,400 ammunition depots across Japan, but they are considered to be disproportionately located in Hokkaido.

Therefore, within fiscal 2023, the ministry will start building new ammunition depots at the GSDF’s Vice-Camp Setouchi in Setouchi, Kagoshima Prefecture, and the Bora Training Area in Miyakojima, Okinawa Prefecture.

It also plans to develop related facilities at the MSDF’s Headquarters Yokosuka District in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and the Headquarters Maizuru District in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture. Since it is essential to win local understanding for the construction of ammunition storage facilities, the ministry intends to coordinate with local governments and carefully explain its plans to the communities concerned.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the importance of a country having the ability to sustain military capabilities, the government has made clear in the National Security Strategy adopted last December that it intends to give top priority to securing supplies of ammunition.