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The Ground Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Marines reached a secret deal in 2015 to station a GSDF amphibious unit at the Marines’ Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa’s Henoko area, Kyodo reported sources as saying Sunday.

But the deal over a regiment of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade came without approval from non-uniform officials of Japan’s Defense Ministry, prompting criticism from them that the GSDF acted against the principle of civilian control, the sources said Sunday.

Meanwhile, further south in Okinawa, a group of business and political leaders in Ishigaki has petitioned the Defense Ministry to bring the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Yaeyama area, writes Robert D. Eldridge, to help keep China’s territorial ambitions in the area in check.

Ground Self-Defense Force personnel conduct an amphibious drill with the U.S. Marines at the Blue Beach training area in Kin, Okinawa Prefecture, in February 2020. | KYODO
Ground Self-Defense Force personnel conduct an amphibious drill with the U.S. Marines at the Blue Beach training area in Kin, Okinawa Prefecture, in February 2020. | KYODO

Recently, the Nishinippon Shimbun reported on how the Defense Ministry is paying for school lunches in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, as a “thank you” to the town for hosting a U.S. base there. The case highlights the issue of special ministry grants offered as sweeteners to such areas, and the scant oversight on how the money is spent.

On Thursday, groups against the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, along with Japanese nationals previously abducted by North Korea and the relatives of abductees urged the new U.S. administration to take the initiative in resolving their respective issues.

The same day, atomic bomb survivors in Japan also called on the Biden camp to sign the U.S. up to a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons that took effect Friday, which Japan has also shunned.

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