Defense Capability Buildup on Southwestern Islands Important: Kishida

Itoman, Okinawa Pref., June 23 (Jiji Press)—Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed Friday the need to strengthen defense capabilities on the Nansei Islands in southwestern Japan.

The archipelago comprising islands in Kagoshima and Okinawa Prefectures “is important in terms of protecting people in the country, which now faces the harshest and most complicated security environment in the postwar era,” Kishida told reporters in the city of Itoman in Okinawa.

He came to the city to attend a ceremony to remember some 200,000 people killed in the Battle of Okinawa in the final phase of World War II 78 years ago.

Japan has been deploying Self Defense Force troops to the Nansei Islands, which extend from the southern tip of Kagoshima toward Taiwan, at a time when China is enhancing its military activities in the East and South China Seas.

Kishida also said easing burdens on Okinawa from the concentration of U.S. bases there is “an important issue the government has to continue to take seriously.”

The government will “keep endeavoring to produce results (on the issue) one by one,” he noted.