Japan’s government has agreed to give Washington $3 billion to facilitate the downsizing of the U.S. Marine force on Okinawa.
The longstanding American military presence on Okinawa has been a sore point for many Japanese living on the strategic island, which has been under U.S. control since World War II.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera to sign an amendment to the 2009 Guam International Agreement (pdf), which calls for removing 4,000 Marines from the island.
Japan’s contribution of $3.1 billion will cover more than one third of the $8.6 billion that the U.S. will spend to transfer the Marines and their dependents to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as develop new infrastructure to support them.
Under a separate agreement signed in 2012, the U.S. plans to withdraw another 5,000 Marines from Okinawa and relocate them to Hawaii and Australia. (The number was reduced from 8,000, which had included family members.)
Members of the III Marine Expeditionary Force stationed on Okinawa won’t begin moving until sometime in the early 2020s.
For many of the island’s residents, the move can’t come soon enough. Many Japanese have been calling for the U.S. to get off Okinawa for decades, particularly after American military personnel stationed on the island were convicted of raping a Japanese woman last year and gang-raping a 12-year-old Japanese girl in 1995.
To Learn More:
Japan, U.S. to OK Deal on Transfer of Marines (Japan Times)
Japan to Pay $3.1 Billion to Relocate Okinawa Marines to Guam (Agence France-Presse)
1995 Okinawa Rape Incident (Wikipedia)
This is the English-language version of Defoliated Island, a Japanese award-winning documentary about the usage of Agent Orange on Okinawa during the Vietnam War. Produced by Okinawa TV station, QAB, the show won national acclaim in Japan when it was first aired in May 2012.
- US Department of ‘Defense’ is the Worst Polluter on the Planet (Aletho News)
- The History of Agent Orange (Aletho News)
- 50 Years of Agent Orange (Aletho News)
- Agent Orange – Vietnam (Aletho News)
The US has reportedly deployed six MV-22 Osprey helicopter-plane hybrids on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa in the face of widespread opposition on the part of the Japanese people against the deployment.
On Monday, the aircraft were flown from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in western Japan to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, DPA reported.
Six such aircraft remain in the Iwakuni base. The 12 aircraft had been transferred from the US to Japan in July.
Okinawa has become known as the site of enduring tensions with the US forces deployed there, and hence a lasting source of conflict between Washington and Tokyo. Pacifist inclinations as well as security and safety concerns have prompted the Japanese to protest against the deployment.
On September 9, tens of thousands of people rallied in the country against the prospect.
The Osprey is equipped with rotors that facilitate take-off like a helicopter and engines that can tilt forward, powering it to fly like an airplane at much faster speed than a chopper.
It is considered pivotal to Washington’s ambitions of force realignment in Asia-Pacific, and enables the US marines to fly farther and with bigger loads from Okinawa to remote islands in Japan.
The aircraft, however, has had multiple malfunctions and many accidents since its early years in 1990s. Osprey crashes killed two in Morocco and an entire crew in Florida this year.
Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has also argued against the Osprey’s safety, and warned that the Futenma base is located in residential areas.
- You: Osprey test rides fail to placate opponents (japantimes.co.jp)
- UPDATE2: Osprey to be moved to Okinawa Mon., U.S. tells Japan (english.kyodonews.jp)
- Tens of thousands protest in Okinawa against Osprey deployment (japantimes.co.jp)
- Nakaima pushes to nix Osprey deployment (japantimes.co.jp)
- 100,000 Okinawa islanders tell US to keep ‘unsafe’ Osprey plane away (morningstaronline.co.uk)
Japan’s prime minister says that he will not allow the U.S. military to fly its newest transport aircraft in his country until safety concerns are first addressed.
Yoshihiko Noda told parliament on Tuesday that no flights of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft would be allowed to take place until investigations into two recent crashes were completed.
The crashes took place in April and June, and Japan says that it will not allow them to operate over its airspace and from its soil until the government is satisfied that safety checks have been completed.
The deployment of the MV-22s to a U.S. military base on the island of Okinawa has become a political headache for the Japanese government due to intense local opposition.
Okinawa hosts more than half of the roughly 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan. The deployment of the aircraft has become an issue for anti-U.S. protesters to rally around.
The first 12 Ospreys headed for Okinawa arrived in Japan on Monday.
The Osprey is a hybrid aircraft with rotors that allow it to take off like a helicopter and engines that can tilt forward, enabling it to fly like an airplane at higher speed than helicopters.
The aircraft’s development was plagued with issues in its early years in the 1990s, but U.S. officials say the technical glitches have been cleared up.
It is used by the U.S. marines, primarily as a troop transport aircraft, allowing soldiers on the ground greater range than current transport helicopters offer.
That a majority of people living on the island of Okinawa want the U.S. Marines gone seems a well-established fact. A plan to build a new airfield on a different part of the island in the town of Henoko is even more unpopular. One recent poll found 84 percent opposition to the new base.
And yet the New York Times tells readers today that it knows better. The headline alone over the piece by Martin Fackler tells you that those polls–not to mention the massive demonstrations against the base–shouldn’t be believed: “Amid Image of Ire Toward U.S. Bases, Okinawans’ True Views Vary.”
Unsurprisingly, the “true views” are apparently supportive of U.S. bases. As Fackler puts it, just “wander up Henoko’s narrow streets, and the villagers will tell you a different story.” The Times explains that if you “look more deeply and a nuanced picture emerges,” one that apparently supports the base and the U.S. military presence.
What of the polls that overwhelmingly say otherwise? The Times gets around to citing one of those 80 percent polls, only to turn around and say: “But look across Okinawa’s divided political spectrum and the depth of that opposition varies.”
Why put so much effort into trying to tell readers that the facts are not what they seem? It’s frankly hard to understand this one. But it can’t be said that this is a new problem for the Times–as FAIR pointed out (11/29/10):
A New York Times piece (11/29/10) on the re-election of Okinawa’s governor, who opposes the U.S. military base there, treated the views of the island’s residents as an annoyance–describing their resistance variously as a “wrench,” a “thorn” and a “headache.” The paper seemed to share the stance of the Japanese national government, which described the re-election as “one manifestation of public opinion”–and perhaps elections are not so important a manifestation, if they give the wrong results.