US Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System at White Sands Missile Range (Photo: US Military)
Fearing a possible conflict with China over Taiwan, the US and Japan are holding talks to stockpile munitions including missiles in each other's military facilities in Japan and close to Taiwan. The idea is to deploy missiles quickly in case of conflagration in the Taiwan Strait.
Washington and Tokyo discussed the storage of munitions during the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee two-plus-two meeting. The two allies also decided to increase sharing and joint use of US and Japanese military facilities, says a report in Taiwan News.
The plan is to also share their runways in case of an armed conflict with China.
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China's military assertion in the Indo-Pacific region has unsettled many countries including Japan, Taiwan and almost all nations in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc. Beijing has also laid claim to the territories of Japan, all of Taiwan and the waters of the South China Sea including the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam and Malaysia.
Nikkei Asia reported that the stockpiles would be spread across Japan’s southwestern islands–the Nansei Islands, which span from Kyushu to northern Taiwan. The stockpiles would be placed in such a manner that these can be quickly deployed in the Taiwan Strait and surrounding areas.
One of the Japanese islands is the Yonaguni Island, part of the Nansei Islands, located just 108 km east of Taiwan.
The plan is to ensure that a possible Chinese strategy of denying access to American and Japanese forces to the East and South China seas is prevented by spreading the munitions across Japan and Taiwan. President Joe Biden recently increased US defence spending in view of competition with China.
It will also ensure that they do not lack the weaponry during a regional conflict. The missiles likely to be deployed include Air-to-Surface Strike Missile, Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, and Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile.
With China often publicly threatening to take over Taiwan even by force, Japan has raised the alarm several times about the possibility of a Chinese attack. Tokyo has upped its defence budget and fears that if China attacks Taiwan, Beijing will attack Japanese administered islands as well.
The Japanese defence ministry's white paper in mid 2021 had said that the rise of China has led to regional tensions. Japan has also been seeking support from European powers to balance China in the Indo-Pacific.