Japan’s Southwest Islands are an archipelago between the Japanese mainland and Taiwan. The total length of the Southwest Islands is about 1,200 kilometers (km) (650 nautical miles [nm]), and there are about 200 islands in the chain. The islands form the boundary between the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean and create chokepoints for People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) force projection into the western Pacific to compete with the United States. Moreover, the distance between the Chinese mainland and the islands ranges from only 400 to 800 km (220 to 430 nm). This is relatively short from the perspective of modern military technology. These geographical, military, and technological features make this archipelago strategically critical to the region.
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