US, Japan ready with contingency plan to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression
Tokyo: US and Japan are ready with a contingency plan to intervene in the Taiwan Strait in event of hostility from across China in the near future. While few details are available, the draft plan had been agreed between US and Japan in case of a Taiwan emergency, according to Asia times.
The draft operational plan was initially proposed by the US Pacific Command (PACOM) and the plan itself was worked out by Japan's Self Defense Force and the US Marines. The term "emergency" was not defined, according to the report. This report is considered as the first report of a joint planning effort being materialised between the US and Japan stressing potential Chinese attacks on Taiwan. On the other hand, the US has carried out a number of exercises recently with Japan, such as Exercise Resolute Dragon, and with others (but not Taiwan), these exercises were not based on a common operational command. Meanwhile, under the draft plan the US Marines, assisted by the Japanese army, would set up a base in the Nansei islands, also known as the Ryukyu islands (southern islands) stretching from Japan's Kyushu to close to Taiwan, according to Asia Times. That base, as foreseen in the draft plan, includes US troops and long-range artillery, primarily in the form of the HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery rocket System) multiple rocket system.
Further, the plan did not define which of the Ryukyu islands would serve as the US base, but most likely it would be one of the islands closest to Taiwan.
Also, Japan has been increasingly concerned about Chinese actions around these islands, using the Chinese Coast Guard as a front to push China's territorial claims over at least some of the southernmost islands.
Earlier, In 2018, then Japanese Emperor Akihito - now Emperor Emeritus - and Empress Michiko visited Yonaguni island, which is the nearest island to Taiwan, a distance of 67 miles. It was an unusual gesture and the emperor went to Yonaguni specifically to show his connection to Taiwan and where, it is said, he "waved" at his friends in Taiwan, according to Asia Times.
Under the draft plan envisages moving, US Marines movement into the HIMARS system to one of the islands, most likely Yonaguni because of its proximity to Taiwan. Yonaguni has some forested areas, roadways, and an airfield. The runway is 6,562 feet and is suitable for a fully loaded C-130. HIMARS is C-130 transportable, according to the report. HIMARS is an advanced multiple launch rocket system built on a wheeled vehicle. Its predecessor, the M270, based on a tracked vehicle, fields the same ammunition and is in the Japanese inventory. On the other hand, despite having a defense treaty with Japan and making efforts to support Taiwan's defense needs, the US Defense Department has been reluctant to put together the kind of defense system that could really deter China, preferring, it seems, to operate independently of both allies and friends. PACOM's tentative plan, which will be taken up in forthcoming "two plus two" meetings (foreign and defense ministers) between Japan and the United States, will reveal whether the plan will be implemented, according to Asia Times.