August 20, 2010 10:52
Tension is growing in the South China Sea as Japan works out a response to China's naval buildup.
The Japan Self-Defense Forces plan to stage a massive drill in December to practice recapturing islands in the Ryuku chain, also known as the Nansei Islands, which stretches from the southern tip of Kagoshima to Okinawa and waters near Taiwan. The drill is based on a hypothetical seizure of the islands by China, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily reported on Thursday.
Japan will mobilize state-of-the-art equipment including F2 fighter jets and PC3 patrol planes. The 7th U.S. Fleet will support the drill, the daily said.
It quoted a Japanese Defense Ministry official as saying, "This drill aims to show Japan's will and capability to defend the Ryukyu Islands."
There is speculation that this drill also aims at securing the Senkaku Islands, which are controlled by Japan but claimed by China, where they are known as the Diaoyutai Islands.
The drill will be staged at Hijudai Artillery Training Area near Oita in eastern Kyushu. The Self-Defense Forces will reportedly simulate transport, evacuation and counterattack in the event of a war on the chain of islands that stretches over 1,000 km east to the west.
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