Former Defense Minister Kyuma doubts need for Henoko base due to military technological advancements

Former Defense Minister Kyuma doubts need for Henoko base due to military technological advancements

Former Minister of Defense Fumio Kyuma


February 11, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


Former Minister of Defense Fumio Kyuma, who was also the director-general of the Defense Agency at the time of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) final report and when the agreement to build on the shore on Camp Schwab was made, had an interview with Ryukyu Shimpo as of February 8 concerning the the return of Futenma Air Station.

He showed doubt regarding the necessity of the base, asking in the interview: “Do they need bases in Henoko or Futenma? Are they unnecessary?”


Kyuma’s remarks show doubt about the necessity of the bases due to the present advanced state of military technology.

This is extremely unusual coming from someone involved in furthering construction of the new base.


In 2012 Satoshi Morimoto, who was minister of defense at the time, said in regards to the relocation of Futenma Air Station, “Militarily, the relocation of Futenma doesn’t need to be in Okinawa, but politically, Okinawa is the most appropriate place.”

Also, cabinet ministers have been increasingly giving political reasons for forcing bases on Okinawa.

Kyuma’s remark reinforces the appearance that the reasons are political, which could make waves.

Kyuma notes that military technology is improving, missile defense posture is intensifying, and defense equipment such as unmanned attack aircraft is becoming more advanced.

With this in mind, he commented: “Do they need bases in Henoko or Futenma?

Are they unnecessary?

Even aside from this discussion, security is changing.”


Furthermore, Kyuma expressed his reservations about the size of the airfield being constructed, saying, “They don’t need an airfield that expansive.”

In terms of currently increased level of consideration for Japan having autonomous defense capabilities, Kyuma pointed out that in regards to the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the U.S. and Japan, “there is an opportunity coming to reflect on things from [the treaty’s] allotted roles to its substance.”

He also claimed that the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) should be revised.

While voicing his objection to the presence of the Marine Corps in Okinawa, Kyuma implied that Okinawa is worse off than a hostage.

His opinion is that the number of personnel stationed there should be fixed.

He also showed understanding for the current plan for a new base in Henoko.

However, regarding the reason that the method of land reclamation was decided upon for the new base, he confirmed that the Defense Agency (currently the Ministry of Defense) hypothesized attacks from outside.

At the time, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto was considering the potential mega-float project to withdraw the Marines, but the Ministry of Defense presented a plan to settle the bases in Okinawa.

Kyuma was the director-general of the Defense Agency from November 1996 to July 1998, again from September 2006 to January 2007, and worked as the first Minister of Defense from January 2007 until July 2007.


(English Translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)



Go to Japanese


Previous Article:
Next Article:

[Similar Articles]