U.S. and Japanese governments possibly padding the number of Marines in Okinawa

U.S. and Japanese governments possibly padding the number of Marines in Okinawa

The actual number of U.S. Marines in Okinawa as released by the U.S. forces in Okinawa (data provided by the Military Base Affairs Division of the OPG).


May 3, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On May 2, in response to a question from the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG), a representative of the U.S. forces in Okinawa said that the actual number of U.S. Marines in Okinawa amounted to 15365 (the number recorded at the end of June 2011). Although the U.S. and Japanese governments stated the number as 18000 in the final report on the realignment of U.S. forces released in May 2006, and 19000 in the joint statement regarding the review of the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan issued on April 27, the actual number has been moving from around 12000 to 13000, and no more than 15000. It is now clear that the actual number of troops is far from that announced by the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Although the governments have announced that they will maintain the fixed number of 10000 marines in Okinawa and transfer the rest out of Japan, it is possible that the U.S. and Japanese governments have actually increased the fixed number and padded out the numbers of the marines transferred from Okinawa to give the people of Okinawa the impression that they are reducing the burden on Okinawa of hosting U.S. forces. Every year, the OPG makes inquiries about the actual numbers of marines stationed in Okinawa to the Okinawa Area Coordinator’s Office of U.S. Forces to create statistical data on the U.S. forces in Okinawa. According to the data, the numbers of marines in Okinawa has ranged from about 12400 to 14960 during the period from September 2005 to the same month of 2009.

The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit of the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa leaves Okinawa for joint exercises every year. It is unclear as to whether or not the U.S. forces have released the actual numbers after taking account of the numbers of marines that are routinely assigned abroad, but for the past several years the actual numbers have been quite different from the fixed numbers, creating the suspicion that the U.S. and Japanese governments pad out the numbers of marines transferred from Okinawa (8000 to 9000) to create the impression that they are reducing the burden on Okinawa.

The lack of a clear foundation regarding the fixed numbers announced by the governments has been pointed out since the 2006 Realignment Roadmap Agreement. Although the roadmap states that 8000 Marine Corps personnel and 9000 dependents would move to Guam, U.S. official telegrams disclosed by WikiLeaks in May 2011 indicate that the U.S. forces intentionally inflated these numbers to the utmost limit to maximize their political value in Japan.
In the consultation on the review of the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan this April, the U.S. government stated that the fixed number of marines stationed in Okinawa would be 21000 instead of 18000, the number that had been announced previously. The U.S. government then changed it to 19000.

Go to Japanese

Share on Facebook38Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter0
 


Previous Article:
Next Article:

[Similar Articles]