Japan eyes 'special police unit' for disputed isles

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 3 Sep 2019

Japan will launch a special police unit equipped with submachine guns and helicopters to patrol disputed isles in the East China Sea - a source of tension between Tokyo and Beijing.

The deployment near the tiny islands known as the Senkakus in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese could come early next year, broadcaster NHK reported.

The National Police Agency said it had put in a budget request for 159 officers to head off "illegal landings on remote islands by armed groups."

Extra jets from the Japan Coastguard were deployed in 2018 to patrol the islands, where a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine was spotted earlier last year.

The uninhabited islets are at the center of a festering row between Tokyo and Beijing.

The Japanese government has long complained about China's routine dispatch of coastguard ships to waters near the uninhabited islands.

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