Japan's deputy defense minister has met with the mayor of a southern island to seek his support for a planned deployment of hundreds of troops to bolster defense in the region including nearby disputed East China Sea islands.

Officials say Vice Minister of Defense Kenji Wakamiya was in Ishigaki on Thursday to explain to mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama a plan to deploy about 500 ground troops on the island beginning in 2019. The troops would belong to units for emergency response in case of infiltration on nearby islands or for missile defense.

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

Japan has stepped up defense readiness amid a Chinese military buildup and its aggressive patrols near the disputed islands.