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HOME  > Past issues  > 2023 April 26 - May 9  > Japanese gov’t deploys missiles to Amami-Oshima Island - a World Natural Heritage site
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2023 April 26 - May 9 [SDF]

Japanese gov’t deploys missiles to Amami-Oshima Island - a World Natural Heritage site

May 7, 2023

Residents of Amami-Oshima Island have deepened concerns that the deployment of missiles by the Japanese government may turn the World Heritage site into a battleground, Akahata reported on May 7.

Amami-Oshima Island is part of Kagoshima Prefecture and is located between Kagoshima and Okinawa. With its unique ecosystem and biodiversity, the island, which is also known as the “Oriental Galapagos”, was registered as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site in 2021.

The government in 2019 began deploying missiles on the island.

The Defense Ministry in March 2019 cleared the forests, a habitat for a number of species such as the endangered Amami rabbit which is designated as a special national treasure, constructed two Ground Self-Defense Force bases, and stationed guard units and missile batteries equipped with surface-to-ship missiles and surface-to-air missiles.

Since then, the ministry has enhanced the functions at the two SDF bases through such means as deploying an electronic warfare unit in 2022 and a logistical support unit in 2023.

Furthermore, the government plans to build an additional large ammunition depot at one of the two SDF bases by the end of FY 2023 in line with the three key national security strategies. The government will probably use this ammunition depot to store type 12 surface-to-ship missiles with a range of more than 1,000 km which are currently under development as part of Japan’s possession of enemy base attack capabilities.

Jomura Norifumi, who heads a residents’ group opposing the missile deployment, said to Akahata, “It is unacceptable for the government to push forward with the missile deployment in disregard to our opinions.”
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