Japan is planning to deploy about 500 ground troops on a southern island as territorial disputes with China continue to escalate.  

Vice Minister of Defence Kenji Wakamiya was in Ishigaki on Thursday to explain to Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama a plan to deploy the soldiers on the island beginning in 2019.

Ishigaki has jurisdiction over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyu islands.

Japan has stepped up defence readiness with the Chinese military build-up and its aggressive patrols near the disputed islands.

Beijing insists it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the East China Sea and the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which about one-third of all the world's traded oil passes.

The disputed waters - also claimed in part or in whole by Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei - have also become the stage for a tussle for regional dominance between Beijing and Washington, the world's two largest economic and military powers.

Source: Agencies