Seihan Nakazato wants the missile trucks on the base next to his melon farm to leave, but few others on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture, he complains, are demanding that the Self-Defense Forces remove such weapons, which he says would make them a target for China.

"We are a small community and there are lots of complicated relationships," said Nakazato, 68, standing next to one of the greenhouses he worries could be bombed. "Some islanders do work for the base and others have relatives in the military."

As Nakazato harvests his melons on Japan's key border outpost, Okinawa on Sunday marks 50 years since the United States ended its occupation, raising hopes of a return to normality after its devastation in World War II. But the East China Sea island chain, which, along with Taiwan, hems in Beijing's forces, fears it will become a battlefield again.