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UPDATED: 09:44, January 17, 2005
Japan maps plan to defend southern islands
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Japan has mapped out a plan to defend a chain of its southernmost islands in the East China Sea amid alleged rising security concerns, a press report says.

The plan calls for the dispatch of 55,000 troops as well as warplanes, destroyers and submarines from Japan's main islands, Kyodo news agency reported.

Japan's national defense agency compiled the plan covering the islands lying in a 1,000-kilometer (625-mile) zone between the southern tip of Japan's Kyushu Island and Chinese Taiwan, Kyodo said, citing unspecified official documents.

In November Japan made public its new defense guidelines which explicitly point to China as a potential threat for the first time .

A Defense Agency official said that Japan's defense forces "do not have troops stationed on most of the southern remote islands and they are a vacuum in terms of security," according to Kyodo.

Under the new plan, naval patrol planes and the airborne warning and control system of the air defense force will collect information on the remote islands, the report said.

Of the 55,000 troops, 9,000 will be assigned to directly recapture invaded islands with the rest providing support for them, the report added.

Meanwhile, Japan has been pushing for a missile defense shield with the United States.

Source: China Daily/agencies

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