NAHA, OKINAWA PREFECTURE – Despite strong local opposition, the central government seems intent on forging ahead with the construction of V/STOL (vertical or short takeoff or landing) facilities for Ospreys and Harrier jump jets in Yanbaru, Okinawa’s northern highlands, without any regard to Japan as a sovereign state.
With contractors blocked from planned construction sites by daring protesters, the Okinawa Defense Bureau resorted to the last hope, using Self-Defense Forces CH-47 helicopters to transport heavy equipment and material to the sites called G and H.
For starters, it must be questioned if it is legitimate for military aircraft to be used to transport a civilian contractor’s equipment.
Second, why in the world did Tokyo agree with Washington to attach the post diem condition, albeit unconditional initially, that the V/STOL facilities be built in return for the unused part of the Northern Training Area?
Thirdly, in the face of an assertive China, what in the world does jungle warfare training (conducted in the northern highlands) have to do with the defense of Japan in general and the Senkakus in particular?
The guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation signed in April last year stipulate that primary responsibility for defending outlying islands rests with the SDF, with U.S. Forces Japan performing only a supporting role. The 2006 Road Map for Realignment Implementation also stipulates that about 8,000 core elements of the marines will relocate to Guam, leaving mostly their support elements in Okinawa. This is a strange troop deployment to anyone’s eyes because it says combat-ready active units are deployed in the safer hinterland while their support units are deployed near a more dangerous war zone.
Under such circumstances, can one say the construction of the marine facilities, both in Takae and in Henoko, is absolutely necessary for checking and repelling enemy invasions of the Senkakus and Japan as a whole?
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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