Why is Japan Fortifying its Small Islands, and why is it such a big deal? | Foreign Correspondent

Published 2023-02-16
After decades of peace, Japan is now confronting the possibility of war. With concerns over a resurgent Russia, North Korea and crucially, a more powerful China in the region, Japan is embarking on its biggest military spend since the Second World War. Subscribe: ab.co/3yqPOZ5

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On Foreign Correspondent, reporter James Oaten has gained unique access to the Japanese military as it fortifies its remote southwest islands with new military bases. The popular tourist destination of Ishigaki, an island that is closer to Taiwan than Tokyo will soon be home to hundreds of soldiers, stockpiles of ammunition and missiles that could one day strike mainland China. The local farming and fishing community is divided over the base, and what it means for their idyllic way of life. The population paid a high price in the dying days of World War 2, fuelling fears that they will once again become a target.

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All Comments (21)
  • tawara carlos
  • sakyou
    For Japan's neighbors China, Russia and North Korea, Japan is a gatekeeper at the entrance to the Pacific Ocean.
    When a great war breaks out, Japan will have to fight regardless of its own wishes. It's just that there is such a reality, and it should be irrelevant to Japanese militarism.
  • I hope Japan will be able to protect itself and its magnificent culture
  • Joe Black
    As a Taiwanese, it is well understood that our location places us in a strategic position along the first island chains in the Pacific Ocean. As such, we have made preparations to ensure our readiness for any potential scenarios that may arise.
  • Sifi
    I have been to Ishigaki, Iriomote, Miyakojima and Okinawa. They are absolutely beautiful islands and the people are warm and friendly. Wishing them all the very best.
  • peixi
    Imagine having a pacifist Japan for over 70 years and now they’re making the biggest effort to fortify their defense force. That’s really indicative how these international tensions are becoming realer by the day. For the people in countries free from threat, all we worry about is our daily struggles from jobs, schools, etc. I’m worried that time will come we will have to take each day as a matter of life or death.
  • Jan Sandman
    The sad thing about reality that most civilians don't understand is that peace cannot be achieved without a show of force, and it's a fact that there is nothing around it or something in between. That Japanese guy perfectly says it: "While it's not good to have too much, having nothing at all is a lot worse."
  • Man, the stories of those who lived through WW2, both on the US side and Japanese side and even the German side... Those stories are nuts. It was a very very hard time for everyone.
  • far center
    Let the world not forget the astounding ability of Japan historically to arm itself to the level of competitive world power in much less time than anyone would assume.
  • na sei
  • Having military base in all of the small island of Japan is a strategic and important move as unknown sudden attack by enemies will be checked to retaliate .
  • Francisco Burgos
    I feel for that poor granny. What she went through sounds horrible. But still I think they’re better off w a base there to help protect them. True that does make em a target, but without protection, they’re vulnerable to Chinese invasion just bc of their strategic location. I’d rather have the shield of my own military than the sword of a foreign military.
  • Phill
    Sadly for the grandmas, it doesn’t matter if military bases are constructed or not, because in the event of a war, a degree destruction and suffering is almost certainly guaranteed…
  • @ferlj3950
    God bless to Japan, I really hope we can be relieved by this tension from this countries I'm from Philippines, stay strong and hoping for peace for our people.
  • ElementXCR
    I think the soldiers that will move into the newly built military bases would need to try and build good relationships with the local community. Though it would make the area a military target if Japan does get attacked, I think they're more safer than not having one. China is more likely to take over an undefended location than not. Especially if the Island are uninhabited or has a small local population. China already does not respect the other countries' territorial waters. Who's to say that the uninhabited islands are Japan's? That's the question China would ask.
  • Yankee76
    We would know from prior experience, the country of Japan has a warriors spirit. I’m impressed with their new developments. United we shall stand, as an alliance. With a policy of peace through strength.

    Instead of appeasement, which only gives you a choice between fight and surrender. And appeasement is the very thing that led to WW2. Bad things happen whenever good men don’t stand up and say no to the wolves.
  • Ninja Turtle
    Although I don't think China will invade Japan, their growing desire to break the first, second chain is inevitable. That could lead to further escalation in the region. It's very important for Japan, Taiwan, and US to have a sustainable presence of power balance to counter China and Russia to prevent a war.
  • GG

  • Andy James
    If the Japanese have a defence base on their island, it becomes a target, if they don't, it becomes an easy target. I wish none of this was the case but, it's been happening for ever 😪
  • The islander should know that..... even if Japanese Army are not in the island..... Invader will definitely cause harmful effects to the local populace. So a strong and reliable base must be set-up.