U.S. and Japan to jointly stockpile munitions, including near Taiwan

Nikkei -- Jan 16
The U.S. and Japan are discussing stockpiling munitions in each other's defense facilities across Japan, including islands in Taiwan's vicinity, to prepare for contingencies, Nikkei has learned.

The issue of joint usage of facilities was discussed in last week's two-plus-two meeting of foreign and defense ministers. The ministers "committed to increase joint/shared use of U.S. and Japanese facilities, including efforts to strengthen Japan Self-Defense Forces' posture in areas including its southwestern islands," the sides said in a statement after the meeting.

Joint use of facilities includes the stockpiling of munitions and shared use of runways, according to a source familiar with the talks. "There was progress on this issue so it was written into the joint statement," the person said.

The southwestern islands, or Nansei Islands in Japanese, are a chain that stretches from the southernmost tip of Kyushu to the north of Taiwan. If realized, the allies would have stockpiles of munitions that can quickly be deployed and replenished in Taiwan's immediate neighborhood. The westernmost of the Nansei Islands, Yonaguni, lies 108 km from the east coast of Taiwan.

The U.S. military has relied heavily on precision-guided munitions in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as battling groups like the Islamic State. Combined with budget cuts, this has led to a shortage of munitions in the army, navy and air force.