Japan to Upgrade Civilian Airports and Seaports for Defense Purposes

Japan has designated five civilian airports and 11 seaports for upgrades to enhance defense capabilities.

Japan is gearing up to strengthen its defense capabilities by upgrading five civilian airports and 11 seaports for use by the Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Coast Guard. These 16 facilities spread across seven prefectures were recently designated as "specified use airports and seaports" by the central government, marking a significant step towards bolstering the nation's preparedness for any potential threats. With a budget of 37 billion yen ($244 million) allocated for the current fiscal year, the upgrades will focus on extending runways and improving berths to accommodate SDF and JCG aircraft and vessels. In addition to their primary role in defense, these facilities will also serve crucial functions such as training exercises, transportation of goods, evacuation of people, and disaster responses during peacetime. The five airports set to undergo upgrades include Kita-Kyushu, Nagasaki, Fukue in Nagasaki Prefecture, Miyazaki, and Naha. On the other hand, the 11 seaports earmarked for enhancements are Muroran, Tomakomai, Kushiro, Rumoi, and Ishikari-wan Shinko in Hokkaido; Takamatsu; Kochi, Susaki, and Sukumo-wan in Kochi Prefecture; Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture; and Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture. The decision to fortify these public infrastructure facilities aligns with Japan's National Security Strategy, emphasizing the importance of developing key defense assets like airports and seaports. While the move has been met with approval from local governments, some concerns have been raised regarding the potential security risks associated with these designated facilities during emergencies. As discussions continue with local authorities to designate more facilities, the government's focus remains on prioritizing locations in the southwestern Nansei Islands, particularly Okinawa Prefecture, amid escalating tensions in the nearby Taiwan Strait. Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama of Ishigaki expressed optimism about the enhancement of Ishigaki Port, emphasizing its role in strengthening deterrence and facilitating rapid disaster responses. However, not all airports in Okinawa made the cut, with New Ishigaki Airport and Yonaguni Airport excluded from the list due to concerns over joint operations with the United States. This decision has sparked debates among local officials, highlighting the need for careful considerations in collaborative defense efforts. While the government's unilateral approach in advancing the project has been criticized by national security experts like Professor Akihiro Sado, the overarching goal of enhancing Japan's defense capabilities remains a top priority. As discussions with local governments continue and upgrades are set in motion, the nation is taking proactive steps to fortify its infrastructure and readiness for any potential threats on the horizon.

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Fateh Muhammad

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