Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and the US military have drafted a plan to establish an attack base on the Nansei Islands in the event of a Taiwan emergency, according to Tokyo officials cited by the country’s Kyodo news agency.
The draft proposal is reported to be part of efforts by Japan and the US to bolster their military cooperation in the face of increased tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.
The plan, reported on Thursday, would see the two nations set up military operations on Japanese islands just north of Taiwan, should conflict break out between the latter and China.
If enacted, the plan would see US Marines stationed on the Nansei Islands at a temporary attack base, with the SDF providing support in the form of extra troops if a military threat to Taiwan was imminent.
Any action by Japan or the US to bolster military support for Taiwan is likely to result in significant opposition from China, which considers the island part of its nation and has pledged to retain control of it – by force if necessary.
Tokyo and Washington, DC are reportedly set to finalize the operational plans during a meeting between their foreign and defense officials in January. The proposal has been dubbed the ‘two-plus-two’ framework, Kyodo cited Japanese government sources as saying.
While the plan has been discussed, according to Kyodo’s report, Japanese officials would have to introduce new legislation to allow troops to be stationed on the island due to the risk their presence would pose to local residents.
Military action could be mobilized in the event that Japan believes conflict between China and Taiwan is likely to threaten peace and security within the region, the sources told Kyodo. The US has been public about its willingness to aid Taiwan if required to push back against Chinese encroachment.
The Nansei Islands consist of around 200 isles, some uninhabited, with 40 locations apparently having been identified as potential sites for the temporary base.
Three of the isles – Amami-Oshima, Ishigaki and Miyako – are reportedly being considered as homes for missile units, but their presence near the disputed Senkaku Islands could spark further anger from China about increased militarization in the region.
US troops are already stationed in Okinawa, where America has military installations established with the Japan government’s consent, despite local opposition.