July 24, 2023
TOKYO – The government has decided to help build a shelter on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture for residents to evacuate to in anticipation of a possible Taiwan contingency. It plans to allocate related funds in the next fiscal year’s budget.
It also plans to start soliciting opinions from experts as early as this summer in order to draw up guidelines on shelter capabilities.
In the National Security Strategy revised in December, the government calls for reinforcing the system to protect residents. The strategy stipulates that Japan will secure “various types of evacuation facilities” with a focus on the Nansei Islands, including Miyako Island, which is governed by the city of Miyakojima. The measure is aimed at ensuring the safety of local government officials, who may have difficulty evacuating in advance.
The Nansei archipelago’s Yonaguni Island, in the city of Yonaguni, is located about 110 kilometers from Taiwan. Some have expressed concern that the island may be affected if China invades Taiwan.
The Miyakojima city government in June requested the Defense Ministry provide financial assistance to make the basement of a planned gymnasium useable as a shelter.
The city plans to equip the gymnasium with a storeroom and a generator that could support about 4,500 people for three days.
The central government will consider how much assistance to provide. It will also expedite efforts to build shelters on Yonaguni Island and Ishigaki Island, in the city of Ishigaki.
The government plans to select about 10 experts, including university professors specializing in such fields as civil protection and crisis management, to draw up guidelines on shelter capabilities. Standards for floor space and wall thickness for such facilities are expected to be discussed with nuclear and missile attacks in mind.