Currently, Japan is increasingly vigilant against China because of their increasing maritime presence. For this reason, Japan is strengthening its defense capabilities particularly on islands in the East China Sea, located southwest of Okinawa.
For example, in March 2018, the JGSDF launched the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), a specialized unit to retake an island invaded by enemies.
JGSDF also has established “Rapid Deployment Divisions / Brigades(RDD/RDB) ”, an extremely mobile unit capable of quickly responding to various situations, and deploying these units to the island using Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) landing ships and Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) transport aircrafts.
CPEC is a new concept to further strengthen such defense structure.
About Japan’s CEPC
CPEC is composed by the following three elements :
- ①Rapid deployment of RDD / RDB and conduct training in the islands environment
- ②Deployment of ARDB in the Southwest Islands with JMSDF landing ships
- ③Conduct training of the JGSDF units not only in Japan but also overseas, such as in the United States and Australia. Of particular importance is the deployment of ARDB to the Southwest Islands.
According to several media reports in Japan which surfaced in March 2019, the MOD plans to have ARDB board a JMSDF Osumi-class landing ship and patrol the East China Sea continuously for several months from peacetime. The deployment of ARDB to the Southwest Islands indicated by the CPEC is in line with this report.
In recent years, the MOD has used ARDB as a tool to show Japan’s presence overseas through participation in multilateral exercises held outside Japan, such as Kamandag (Philippines) and Talisman Saber (Australia). This deployment to the Southwest Islands seems to be aimed at showing such a Japanese presence in the East China Sea too, as well as strengthening the cooperation with JMSDF and the structure for responding to unexpected situations, including the so-called “gray zone situation”.