GSDF Opens New Garrison on Ishigaki Island Near Taiwan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Self-Defense Forces vehicles drive through the city of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, on March 5 to deliver equipment to a new garrison.

The Ground Self-Defense Force opened a garrison on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture on Thursday where it deployed surface-to-ship and surface-to-air missile units, among others.

Amid China’s aggressive maritime expansion, the Nansei Islands, excluding the main island of Okinawa, were long considered a defense-forces vacuum. But the latest base was the last in a planned series of new Self-Defense Forces garrisons. Since 2016, garrisons have been built on the islands of Yonaguni and Miyakojima in Okinawa Prefecture as well as on Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture. The Defense Ministry said “the vacuum situation has been resolved.”

This is the first time that an SDF facility has been built on Ishigaki Island. The garrison, located in the center of the island, covers an area of about 47 hectares. The garrison has about 570 personnel, including those in anti-aircraft and missile companies.

Type 12 surface-to-ship guided missiles and type 03 medium-range surface-to-air guided missiles are scheduled to arrive at the garrison as early as Saturday.

This is the third deployment of missile units to the Nansei Islands, excluding the main island of Okinawa, and follows dispatches to Amami-Oshima and Miyakojima islands. The missile units on Ishigaki Island are the closest to Taiwan among such SDF companies. It has also been reported that in the future a surface-to-air missile unit will be deployed to Yonaguni Island, closer still to Taiwan.