0908: Japan to Stockpile Munitions and Fuel Near Taiwan; U.S. $1.1 Billion Arms Sales to Taiwan; Rep. Murphy Leads Delegation to Taiwan

Japan to Stockpile Munitions and Fuel on Nansei Islands Near Taiwan

Japan will expand ammunition and fuel storage facilities on the Nansei Islands (also known as the Ryukyu Islands), Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told Nikkei on September 6, as Tokyo seeks to better prepare for a Taiwan Strait crisis.

Japan now stores around 70% of its ammunition in Hokkaido Prefecture, the country’s northernmost main island — more than 2,000 km away from a potential conflict around Taiwan.

Japan’s Defense Ministry sees increasing capacity on the remote Nansei chain, which stretches southwest from Kyushu to near Taiwan, as contributing to greater deterrence against China.

“To protect Japan, it’s important for us to have not only hardware such as aircraft and ships, but also enough ammunition for them,” Hamada said.

“We will radically strengthen the defense capabilities we need, including our capacity for sustained and flexible deployment,” he said.

Hamada said the first step toward realizing that goal would be the construction of a new ammunition depot on the island of Amami Oshima, which lies about 800 km to the northeast of Taiwan proper, between Kyushu and Okinawa.

Tokyo will also consider using the site to store weapons such as standoff missiles, which are designed to be launched from outside an enemy’s defensive fire range, he added.

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have stockpiled ammunition only enough for two months at most. Less than 10% is stored in southwestern Japan’s Kyushu and Okinawa, and the SDF lacks the shipping capacity to send enough to the area during a conflict.

Tokyo will look into building port facilities and fuel tanks on islands in Okinawa, Kyushu and elsewhere, Hamada said.

Japan now has five months of oil reserves, but if the fuel cannot be delivered to the front lines, the country’s forces will lack the fuel needed to operate, he added.

Building infrastructure to send supplies from Kyushu and the main island of Honshu also would help Japan support U.S. forces responding to a Taiwan conflict.

[1] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Editor-s-Picks/Interview/Japan-to-expand-fuel-and-ammo-storage-on-islands-near-Taiwan-defense-chief
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/09/08/2003784951

U.S. Announces $1.1 Billion Missiles Sales and Logistics Support for Taiwan

The U.S. government has approved three proposals to supply Taiwan with a total of US$1.1 billion worth of defense articles that include Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles — the sixth U.S. arms package to Taiwan approved under President Biden.

The proposed arms sales will include 60 AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II missiles, four ATM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II exercise missiles, 100 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder tactical missiles, as well as logistics support for the Surveillance Radar Program (SRP), the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced in separate press statements on September 2.

Other items include four AIM-9X Block II tactical Guidance Units, spare and repair parts, and technical assistance from the U.S. government and the suppliers of the defense articles, according to the agency.

The Biden administration said the package has been under consideration for some time and was developed in consultation with Taiwan and U.S. lawmakers.

“As the PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to increase pressure on Taiwan — including through heightened military air and maritime presence around Taiwan — and engages in attempts to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, we’re providing Taiwan with what it needs to maintain its self-defense capabilities,” Laura Rosenberger, White House National Security Council senior director for China and Taiwan, said.

“These proposed sales are routine cases to support Taiwan’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” a U.S. Department of State spokesperson said, requesting anonymity.

The U.S. has provided Taiwan with defense items and services “essential for Taiwan’s security” and will continue to work with the industry to achieve that, the spokesperson said, adding that the U.S. government had notified Congress of over US$35 billion worth of arms sales to Taiwan since 2010.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said that the proposed U.S. arms sales would help the Taiwanese Army better tackle increasingly “severe threats” posed by China’s “gray zone” pressure campaigns in the sea and air near Taiwan by elevating the effectiveness of Taiwan’s long-range missile warning systems.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202209030003
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/09/04/2003784710

Taiwan Won’t Yield to China’s Threats, President Tsai Tells Rep. Murphy’s Delegation

On September 8, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen told a visiting delegation of American lawmakers that Taiwan will not back down in the face of China’s growing military coercion and will continue to work closely with the U.S. to safeguard regional peace and security.

In a meeting at the Presidential Office, Tsai expressed thanks for the U.S. Congress’ “rock-solid support for Taiwan” and for the visit by the delegation led by Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), vice chair of the House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations.

The delegation’s trip is especially meaningful in view of China’s recent week-long live-fire drills around Taiwan, Tsai said while receiving Murphy’s bipartisan delegation, which also includes Scott Franklin (R-FL), Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Andy Barr (R-KY), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), and Kat Cammack (R-FL).

“I want to take this opportunity to tell our friends that Taiwan will not bow to pressure or coercion,” President Tsai said. “We will defend our democratic institution and way of life. Taiwan will not back down, and we will actively deepen cooperation with our diplomatic partners to jointly safeguard peace and security in the region.”

Tsai also urged the visiting American lawmakers to support Taiwan’s efforts to sign two agreements with the U.S. — on trade and avoidance of double taxation — which she said would create a better environment for bilateral investment.

In response, Murphy agreed that the U.S. Congress should support the signing of a high-quality U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement (FTA) and help Taiwan to participate in international forums when appropriate.

The current visit by the bipartisan lawmakers, like that of every other U.S. congressional delegation, is “a symbol of Congress’ rock-solid commitment to Taiwan,” said Murphy, who is the first Vietnamese-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress.

“This message is especially strong coming from Congress, which is a co-equal branch of the American government with the power to craft legislation and policy that often remain in place across multiple presidential administrations,” she added.

The visit by members of the U.S. Congress is the eighth of its kind this year and the sixth by an American delegation since China staged its military drills around Taiwan in August, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202209080009
[2] Taiwan News: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4651982