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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid