- Deploying the Self-Defense Forces to the Nansei Islands
The Nansei Islands will be at the forefront of conflicts involving China. With the exception of the main island of Taiwan, armed conflicts occur in air and at sea. Therefore, the most important equipment to deploy on the islands would be aircraft, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, and information, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems. The lines of defense of the islands will be strengthened by naval vessels operating in the rear and aircraft assisted by refueling aircraft from Kyushu and elsewhere.
The range and accuracy of modern missiles has dramatically changed the battle space. However, missiles with a range of 1,000 km, which are much cheaper than those with a range of 3,000 km, still occupy the majority.
It is necessary to consider multiple bases located at different locations from the perspective of a geographical zone. If the Nansei Islands are the first belt closest to China, the bases in Kyushu and western Japan are the second belt, and the bases in northern Japan such as Misawa and Chitose and Guam are preliminary third bases.
All troops in the theater need to be resilient. Depending on the type of equipment, you should have one or more means of dispersion and mobility enhancement, the installation of a bunker that protects the aircraft from attacks, measures to deceive enemy attacks, defense by aircraft and missiles, if possible.
Deploying critical equipment, such as tanker aircraft, in locations close to China, such as the Nansei Islands, without taking decentralized or protective measures will result in serious vulnerabilities. Conversely, if you deploy it far away from the battlefield, its value will be low.
Okinawa’s troops are of great value, but losses should be factored in. The most important thing in the defense of the Nansei Islands is to have private and military infrastructure in place to minimize losses and quickly replace them in the event of a loss. For example, port and airport infrastructure, runway repair functions, etc.
The Air Self-Defense Force stationed in Naha has a relatively small number of aircraft. Naha pilots need more scramble (anti-violation measures) in peacetime, which puts them under tension. But given the threat of missiles, a large number of aircraft should not be deployed.
Deployment in peacetime does not mean that it will be an emergency deployment. On the other hand, peacetime deployment is the basis for emergency deployment. For example, an aircraft shelter cannot be built immediately in an emergency. You should be prepared for deployment in the event of an emergency.
- What can happen and what you need to do
The Toshima Islands, west of Miyakojima, will be a very valuable fortress in the event of a Taiwan emergency, but it is up to the Japanese government to decide whether or not to use it for military purposes. If HIMARS (High Mobility Rocket Artillery System) is deployed on Yonaguni Island, it can attack the landing points of Chinese troops within the northern half of Taiwan.
Defending the airspace around the Maejima Islands limits the ability of Chinese Air Force fighters to patrol on the eastern side of Taiwan. US-Japan anti-ship missiles make the Chinese fleet more vulnerable. Radar deployed on the islands can monitor the activities of Chinese troops.
Overall, I think the flow of civilian evacuation from Taiwan to the east will be stronger than the flow of many military elements deployed in the Maejima Islands to Taiwan to the west.
If there is a war over Taiwan and the Senkaku Islands, the battle will be huge and will extend beyond the “Ryukyu arc.” The main battle in Taiwan will be ground battles, but as far as the Self-Defense Forces and the US military are concerned, the battles will be overwhelmingly at sea.
- “Flexibility” and “resiliency” of the U.S. military and the Self-Defense Forces
For example, the use of private infrastructure in the event of an emergency. The Chinese army is likely to attack the base with ballistic and cruise missiles of conventional weapons and try to change the qualitative air-to-air superiority of Japan and the United States. Survivability and effectiveness can be significantly increased by the US and Japan distributing equipment to more facilities and hiding aircraft if possible.
Japanese citizens and the government need to decide whether to amend the law to enable military use of private infrastructure. The amendments will help Japan and the United States in the event of an emergency and help deter China from advancing the war.
I think it is possible to reach an agreement or compromise between the Government of Japan and Okinawa Prefecture. For example, it is a compromise to further reduce the number of US Marines in Okinawa in exchange for military use of private airports. However, if compromises are not possible, legislative changes may emerge.
- Deployment issues of the Self-Defense Forces
The Self-Defense Forces are very capable, but like all troops, they have problems. In the case of the Self-Defense Forces, there are two problems.
First, it seems that the joint operational measures for land, sea and air are insufficient. Second, it goes beyond the role of the GSDF in both budget and influence. The two issues are closely related to each other.
Perhaps the current budget allocation is 1.5 for land, 1 for sea, and 1 for sky. However, the sea and sky are overwhelmingly occupied by the scenarios related to the Taiwan emergency. The ratio is probably close to 1 for land and 1.5 for sea and air. The GSDF is currently playing new roles in the defense of the sea and air, but these roles can be played more reasonably and cheaply by the JMSDF and the ASDF.
- Senkaku Islands
It cannot be said that there is no occupation of the Senkaku Islands, but it is unlikely that it will be occupied as part of Taiwan. I think it’s an unlikely scenario for both political and military reasons. Politically, occupying the Senkaku would not only facilitate action against Taiwan, but would also drive Japan head-on into the enemy camp, complicating the situation. It puts us at risk of a full-scale war against Japan and the United States.
Even if you occupy the Senkaku, you cannot maintain the occupation unless you can control the sea and sky. If Chinese troops land, Japan and the United States could attack from outside the range of China’s latest surface-to-air missiles.
Rather, I think China is likely to occupy islands that are closely related to military operations against Taiwan, such as the Penghu Islands located off the southwest coast of the main island of Taiwan.
- U.S. military preparations for the expiration of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)
The United States is expanding the range of existing systems such as the ATACMS (Surface-to-Ground Missile) that can be launched from HIMARS. The Army and Navy is also developing a boost-glide system called C-HGB (Common Hypersonic Glide).
However, INF does not apply to air-launched systems, so it is important to keep in mind that U.S. Navy and Air Force aircraft operate a large number of long-range stand-off missiles (attacking from outside the range of enemy anti-aircraft missiles). There is.
The United States will purchase nearly 10,000 air-to-ground missiles JASSM-ER with a range of about 1,000 kilometers. The effective range is further extended as the aircraft approaches China before launching the missile. China, on the other hand, has about 1,300 ground-launched ballistic missiles, as well as perhaps 500 long-range cruise missiles.
- Biden administration’s Taiwan policy
The Taiwan issue is primarily a political issue rather than a military one. I am concerned that the current “war panic” may be leading the United States to take steps to increase the likelihood of conflict rather than deterrence.
Given that the United States intervenes and Japan joins it or permits the use of US military bases in Japan, the chances of a successful invasion by China are very small. Unless there are other options, Chinese leaders will not pursue this adventure.
President Biden himself has made contradictory statements, but according to his official statement, “If Taiwan declares legal independence, we will not fight” due to the policy of deliberate ambiguity by the United States, “China is said. It seems to be balanced by suggesting two warnings: “If you launch no attack, you will fight.”
There are many views on whether the United States will actually fight if Taiwan is attacked. I personally think the United States will fight Taiwan unless Taiwan makes a dramatic move that seems to change the status quo and cause an attack. There are some exceptions, such as when China invades a small offshore island rather than invading the main island of Taiwan or blocking the sea. In such cases, the response will be primarily political and economic rather than military.