Defense White Paper 2011 suggests that relocating Futenma outside of Okinawa will impair the functions of the U.S. Marine Corp

August 3, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

The government has approved the White Paper on Defense 2011 edition at its Cabinet meeting on August 2. In its opening feature article, the White Paper mentioned the rescue operations for the affected areas in the Great East Japan Earthquake by Japan’s Self Defense Forces (JSDF) and “Operation Tomodachi” by the U.S. Forces in Japan. The paper is wary of a change in the security environment surrounding Japan, citing the example of Chinese military vessels having passed between Miyako Island and Okinawa in June.

With regard to the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (USMCAS) Futenma relocation issue, it reports that at the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee (2+2) held in June, both governments confirmed the construction of a V-shaped runway off Henoko in Nago. The paper explains the reason for rejecting local demands that the facilities currently at Futenma be moved outside of the prefecture by stating, “There is a concern that moving [the USMCAS Futenma outside of Okinawa] would impair the function of the Marine Corps, so both governments came to the conclusion that the alternative facilities for Futenma will be constructed within the prefecture.”

On the matter of U.S. bases in Okinawa, it mentions that 74% of U.S. military facilities in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa. “In the context of the current international security situation [the government] needs to tackle the Okinawa base issue firmly to reduce the burden as much as possible,” the paper said.

“[The scale of the return program for bases located in areas south of Kadena] is currently being discussed with the United States.” With regard to whether or not this will be realized, it stated, “it will be possible to return these bases following the relocation to Guam and the relocation and return of the Futenma Air Station,” suggesting that USMCAS Futenma’s relocation within Okinawa and to Guam is condition for the return of bases located in areas south of Kadena.

With regard to the plan to move a portion of the Marine Corps personnel to Guam, it says, “Progress on the Realignment of U.S. Forces is very important in terms of reducing the burden on Okinawa.”
The White Paper stated that since fiscal 2009 the government of Japan has transferred funds to the U.S. side as direct budgetary support.
It does not mention that the United States is facing financial difficulties and has reduced its budget allocation for the relocation to Guam.

It mentions the deployment force plan to the Ryukyu Islands in the new Defense Outline and the Midterm Defense Buildup Plan formulated by the Ministry of Defense late last year. It indicates with maps that the JSDF will strengthen its capacity and safety on the islands to respond to possible attacks, such as by deploying a coastal monitoring unit and organizing a new unit responsible for an initial military response.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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