Japan SDF to Launch Amphibious Transport Unit in 2025; Unit to Rush Troops to Remote Islands in Emergency

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

The Self-Defense Forces will create a new sea transport unit in March 2025 that will be a joint force and will transport SDF units and supplies to remote islands.

The envisaged unit will work out of a Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, and be staffed by around 100 personnel.

With a possible contingency in Taiwan in mind, the new unit is also aimed at bolstering the country’s defense capabilities in the southwestern region.

One of the main missions of the unit will be to transport Ground Self-Defense Force units to remote islands in a speedy manner in the event of a contingency. It will be composed mainly of GSDF members, with training for ship steering having started in March 2019.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

At first, the new unit will have two ships — one midsize ship and one small ship — but this will grow to 10 ships by fiscal 2027. More personnel will also be added to the unit.

The 10 ships will include one midsize ship, three small ships and three high-speed, highly maneuverable boats. The remaining three ships will be decided later.

The midsize ships are expected to be used for transport between Japan’s main island and remote islands. The small ships are to be used for transport between remote islands with shallow ports. Since many of the southwestern islands do not have ports capable of accepting large transport vessels, high-speed boats that can land on beaches will be introduced so the unit can undertake a wide range of operations.

The government requested ¥17.3 billion in the fiscal 2024 budget bill to procure the three high-speed boats and plans to add the boats to the new unit in fiscal 2026 and 2027.

Under current law, only MSDF units are given the authority to stop and inspect foreign ships transporting military supplies during a contingency. The government has submitted a bill to the current Diet session that would revise the law and grant the same authority to the new unit. It hopes to pass the bill as soon as possible.