Japan to build surveillance facility in Pacific

Japan's Defense Ministry plans to build a communications intelligence facility on an outlying island in the Pacific Ocean to enhance surveillance on the growing Chinese military presence in the ocean, a government source said Thursday.

The ministry's budget request for fiscal 2014 from next April includes part of the 12 billion yen needed to build the facility, which is slated to start operation in fiscal 2017 on Iwoto Island about 1,250 kilometers south of central Tokyo, the source said.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera will visit the island early next month.

The ministry has similar facilities at six locations across the country, including the northern prefecture of Hokkaido, to intercept communications between ships and aircraft.

China has increased military operations in the Pacific as Japan-China relations have been strained due to a row over the sovereignty of the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, which China calls Diaoyu, in the East China Sea.

Chinese naval vessels circumnavigated the Japanese archipelago in July for the first time and two Chinese bombers flew to the Pacific earlier this month.