News / Asia

    US-Japan May Scrap Accord on Marines in Okinawa

    U.S. Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit haul a 155 mm Howitzer onto the flight deck of the forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown in Okinawa, Japan, February 2, 2012.
    U.S. Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit haul a 155 mm Howitzer onto the flight deck of the forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown in Okinawa, Japan, February 2, 2012.

    The two sides appear headed toward canceling a 2006 accord to relocate a US military facility.

    2006 accord, not implemented

    Japan and the United States appear to be heading toward canceling a 2006 accord that would have relocated a strategic American military facility to a less crowded part of the island of Okinawa.  This comes as the city at the heart of the base controversy has elected a new mayor.

    Impeded by activists and local politicians who want U.S.military bases and their personnel moved off Okinawa instead of relocated to other parts of the island, influential Japanese officials, according to sources, are concluding the agreed-to plan with Washington will not be implemented.

    That would mean the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station remains operational in the middle of the heavily congested city of Ginowan.

    Newly elected mayor, appeal for resolution

    On Sunday, voters in Ginowan elected Atsushi Sakima as their new mayor.

    Cheers of “banzai” erupted in Sakima's campaign headquarters when word came he was assured victory over a leftist anti-base hardliner.  But Sakima also campaigned on a pledge to have the Marine air station removed from the island.  

    He reiterated that stance to reporters in his first comments as mayor-elect. Sakima said, along with Okinawa's governor, he wants to appeal to the central government for resolution of the issue of the air station and moving the Marines to reduce the burden on the local population.

    De-linking relocation of air station from marine movement

    Media reports last week said some U.S. Marines based on Okinawa, numbering about 1,500, would move to the Japanese mainland.  But the former U.S. consul general on Okinawa, Kevin Maher, said there are no signs that is being seriously considered.

    “I have been told by people both in the Japanese and the U.S.governments that the idea of moving some number of Marines to mainland Japan, to Iwakuni specifically, is not something that is being discussed by the governments," he said.

    They would be part of around 8,000 Marines, originally scheduled to move from Okinawa to Guam, based on the six-year-old agreement on realignment of American forces in Japan.

    The United States and Japan jointly announced last week they are de-linking the relocation of the air station from the movement of the Marines from the island.

    Maher, now a consultant, said the Japanese government has failed to explain to the Okinawans why the U.S. bases are vital.  The former head of the State Department's Japan office contends the bases are critical not only for Japan's security, but Okinawa's as well, especially at a time when China is quickly expanding its blue water naval capabilities.

    “A lot of that is aimed at the southwest islands of Japan, the Ryukyu islands.  If you look at the first island chain strategy of the Chinese that includes the islands of Okinawa, the Chinese strategy of area access and denial very directly impacts the islands of Okinawa.  So the Okinawans just have to understand that they are in a situation and a location that is strategic," he said.

    Okinawa hosts nearly half of the 50,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan, including 18,000 Marines.

    Maher retired from government service last year, after alleged controversial remarks about Okinawans attributed to him were published by a Japanese news agency.  Maher has denied that he made any offensive comments during an off-the-record briefing to university students in Washington.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora