Japan Establishes First Surface-to-Ship Missile Regiment on Okinawa Island

The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) held a ceremony for the creation of the first Surface-to-Ship Missile (SSM) unit on Okinawa on March 30th. The ceremony was held at the JGSDF Vice Camp Katsuren, located in the city of Uruma, along the island’s eastern coast.

Senior Vice Defense Minister Makoto Oniki attended and gave a speech at the ceremony, saying that Okinawa’s “extremely important location” is important for Japan’s national security. The ceremony comes after the JGSDF formally established the SSM regiment, equipped with the Type 12 system, on March 21st.

The regiment’s mission is to monitor the various Chinese naval vessels that sail between Okinawa and Miyako islands.

While the JGSDF previously created SSM regiments on Iskigaki and Miyako Islands in the lower part of the Ryukyu Island Chain, the Uruma city-based unit is the first to be located on Okinawa. The new SSM regiment is significant because the JGSDF now has the ability to target and destroy any People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels that transit the Miyako Strait.

Japanese Deputy Vice Defense Minister Makoto Oniki and SSM regiment Commander reviewing SSM unit personnel during ceremony at JGSDF Vice Camp Katsuren on March 30th (Photo: Kyodo)