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Congress didn't pass the bill for the necessary appropriations due to skyrocketing expenditure on the Vietnam War, as Masaaki Gabe suggests [3], or because U. The situation is totally different today, however. If all goes according to Pentagon plans, Tokyo will shoulder all the expenses for land reclamation and the construction of runways and other facilities, not to mention the high-end equipment, as well as the cost of relocating thousands of US troops to Guam.

But fifteen years later, the burdens remain as heavy, nor will they be lightened if Futenma's operations are moved to another location within Okinawa. Moving the base around in Okinawa or, more broadly, in Japan will clearly signal that Tokyo has yet again consented to a permanent U. This must be prevented by all means.

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  3. The Thorn in Japan’s Side: Okinawa & The Relocation of the Futenma Base?
  4. Okinawa Elects to Resist.

This is the essential issue concerning Futenma, one which cuts to the very heart of the U. S-Japan strategic alliance. Washington persists in saying that Henoko is the best site for the relocation of Futenma if Japan wishes to continue to maintain the American military deterrence capability, warning that contingencies could occur in the Pacific region, for example, in the Korean Peninsula or the Taiwan Straits, requiring the Marines' presence as essential deterrence.

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On January 6, , the U. Marine Corps Okinawa announced its position on the relocation of Futenma. In order to counter contingencies effectively, a helicopter squadron must be deployed within a minute distance from a base where ground forces are standing by. This is why they claim Futenma's function must be relocated to Henoko, which is adjacent to Camp Schwab and Camp Hansen where the Marines' ground troops are stationed. According to this explanation, a helicopter squadron must pick up ground troops in 20 minutes and transport them to the frontline in a short span of time perhaps one hour.

But can one realistically imagine such a situation in and around Okinawa Island? Do the Marines think a ground battle similar to the World War II Battle of Okinawa will be replicated in the southern section of this island? Is Okinawa still a war zone in their thinking? Suppose war occurred in the Korean Peninsula and the Marines from Okinawa successfully landed there in one hour. Would 17, Marines go into battle against North Korea's 1.

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The same issue pertains to the Taiwan Straits. As is well known, China has a 1. Or can they function as a bulwark against potential missile attacks, say, by North Korea, China or Russia? Of course, the Marines alone may not work as deterrents against outside threats; they may be an integral part of the USF Japan together with the Navy and the Air Force. However, if contingencies occurred in the Korean Peninsula or in the Taiwan Straits, they would certainly have to increase their number substantially, probably to , troops at a minimum.

But assembling troops takes several weeks or even months as the Persian Gulf War and the initial stage of the Iraq War demonstrated. Consequently, the explanation by the Marines and Washington that a helicopter squadron must be deployed within a minute distance from a base where ground forces stand by and, therefore, the claim that Henoko is the best relocation site for Futenma's operations lacks credibility.

The Okinawan press reports that Camp Hansen Kin and Camp Schwab Henoko are both empty shells these days because their occupants were deployed to Iraq and now to Afghanistan to fight against insurgents there. Obviously, the U. Marines or the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, to be more specific, are stationed in Okinawa not to defend Japan as ballyhooed but simply to hone their assault skills in preparation for combat elsewhere. Compare these figures with Germany's and Korea's support.

That the Marines are based in Okinawa not to defend Japan but mainly to strengthen U. Pundit Kevin Rafferty is more direct saying, "some of the bases in Japan are staging-posts for deployment in Afghanistan and elsewhere [6]. When Marine contingents were compelled to move out of Gifu and Yamanashi Prefectures in mainland Japan in the face of mounting anti-U. Army was the major element in the U.

Forces in Okinawa during the occupation period which ended in with reversion. Apparently, the Army recognized the limited value of being stationed in Okinawa and so withdrew, leaving behind only a few hundred troops. The Marines grabbed this chance to expand their role and function, taking over everything from the departing Army. They are not, however, deterrents against outside "threats" as they boast. Washington has remained adamant in insisting that Futenma's operations be moved to Henoko.

Okinawa Elects to Resist

Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Tokyo to implement the agenda specified in the Road Map as soon as possible. The remaining Marines in Okinawa would then be task force elements such as ground, aviation, logistics and other service support members. Upon completion of the relocation of Futenma's function to Henoko and the transfer of the Marine command units to Guam, the U. In trying to sell this package, Washington claims that this reduces Okinawa's burdens tremendously. Note, however, that these lands will be returned only if their replacements are found somewhere within Okinawa: for example, Henoko for Futenma, the very question which is straining the bilateral relationship.

The Road Map clearly states: "All functions and capabilities that are resident in facilities designated for return, and that are required by forces remaining in Okinawa, will be relocated within Okinawa. These relocations will occur before the return of designated facilities. It seems it is time for a reevaluation of the real threats to American national security in the region. The most immediate and dangerous threat is North Korea and its nuclear weapons.

Okinawa’s Inconvenient Truths|Research|The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research

When the threat is nuclear, the number of stationed troops is of far lesser priority. Addressing this economic crisis should be the chief concern for the U. Any potential military conflict can be effectively dealt with from other American bases in Japan or nearby countries.

US military bases on Okinawa an unwelcome legacy of war with Japan

Under modern circumstances, it does not seem necessary to station tens of thousands of military personnel in Okinawa. Nonetheless, this election will serve as a major turning point in U. Considering the ballooning costs and growing resentment from local residents, it seems like an appropriate time to reconsider priorities. Perceived threats can be addressed more efficiently.

Perhaps a joint security alliance between Japan and neighboring countries, such as South Korea, could be established with the support of the U.

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Instead of arming allies with American troops, the U. American presence in allied Asian countries will realistically continue into the foreseeable future, but in light of public outrage and resentment, such as the situation in Okinawa, perhaps the U. The people of Okinawa will remain hostile and financial costs for the U. Without any real benefit aside from occasional training exercises, there is no reason to keep so many soldiers stationed permanently in Okinawa. This is not to say, however, that American military presence in Japan should be dissolved entirely.

Kadena, Sasebo, and Iwakuni, three other bases in Japan, would provide adequate support in any worst-case scenario.

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There is no need for the U. In any case, endangering the U. With such widespread resistance from local citizens, relocation of the Marine Corps base in Okinawa is clearly not a reasonable option. It has been more than 10 years since this issue first arose, and now the leader of the opposition, Onaga, has died. This is a perfect opportunity to move toward a solution.

Furthermore, the Abe administration must face reality and negotiate with the U. As for the U. There needs to be a realization that modern war is not just of military force, but often takes the form of other means, such as economic or political manipulation.

Hatoyama probably wants to wait till the Nago Mayoral election is held in January before making the decision. If Hatoyama seriously plans to propose revisions to the current plan, the administration needs to build solid consensus at home for swift execution and persuade Washington to accept the changes. Gates said unless the relocation to Henoko is realized, the Futenma base will remain at its current location and the entire realignment plan of US forces in Japan, including the proposed transfer of 8, Marines from Okinawa to Guam, will be stalled.

The Japanese public and people in Okinawa are not convinced of the plan to reclaim land in the sea blessed with valuable nature to build a new military base in the prefecture, which is already filled with US bases.