Associated Press & Financial Times & Mainichi Daily News – 2005-10-31 00:25:13
US, Japan Announce Military Agreement
Harry Dunphy / The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (October 30, 2005) — A US-Japanese agreement announced Saturday is intended to strengthen military cooperation, draw down US Marines from Okinawa and give Tokyo greater responsibility for security in the Pacific. The decisions were part of an American effort to streamline its military overseas and create a leaner, more flexible fighting force.
The accord says 7,000 US Marines will leave strategically located Okinawa for the US Pacific territory of Guam, a move that is expected to take six years. Earlier in the week the two governments agreed to close the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station in the crowded southern part of Okinawa and move its functions to Camp Schwab in the north, clearing the way for broader weekend talks on defense issues.
Okinawans have long complained of crime, crowding and noise associated with the American bases. There are 14,460 Marines in Japan, the largest contingent based overseas, and nearly all are in Okinawa.
Both Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his Japanese counterpart, Yoshinori Ono, said the 14-page document would transform the US-Japanese alliance. They were joined at a Defense Department news conference by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura.
“We have agreed to the findings and recommendations to strengthen our alliance and achieve strategic objectives,” Rumsfeld said. “Now is the time to move forward with the transformation of our alliance.”
Ono said the alliance is getting “a fresh start, new energy and opening a new era … to improve peace and security.”
The accord said the United States and Japan will step up joint military planning, hold military exercises together and share the use of the Kadena air base and other facilities in the country. Calling the alliance the anchor of regional stability, the agreement gives Japan more responsibility for its own defense and an enhanced security role in the region.
It says Japan will defend itself and respond to situations in areas surrounding Japan, including addressing new threats and diverse contingencies “such as ballistic missile attacks, attacks by guerrilla and special forces and invasion of remote islands.”
The United States will deploy state-of-the art radar in Japan for ballistic missile defense and closely coordinate command and control systems with the Japanese, the document says.
At the same time, the accord reaffirms the role of US forces in the defense of Japan, which dates back to the end of World War II. “The US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region is a core capability that is indispensable to regional peace and security and critical to both the US and Japan,” the accord says.
In the troop realignment section of the document, the United States commits itself to giving particular attention to “regions where US facilities are concentrated in densely populated areas.” The realignment “will include the transfer of approximately 7,000 Marine officers and enlisted personnel plus dependents out of Okinawa,” the accord says.
The document says Japan, recognizing the strong desire of Okinawa residents for a rapid force reduction, will work with the US government to examine what financial and other measures it can take to help facilitate the movement to Guam. The two sides committed themselves to producing realignment schedules by March 2006.
The agreement to close the Futenma air base was followed by announcement Thursday that Japan will allow a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be based there for the first time. The Japanese public has long been wary of a US nuclear presence because of the fear of radiation leaks.
© 2005 The Associated Press
Tokyo to Step Up Self-defence as US Cuts Military
David Pilling /
TOKYO (October 30 2005) — Tokyo and Washington have agreed to cut the number of US marines stationed in Japan by 7,000 as part of wide- ranging plans under which Japan’s self-defence forces will play a bigger role in defending the country.
The agreement, signed in Washington on Saturday, followed intense negotiations last week to wrap up ponderous discussions over the locations and functions of US bases. Failure to agree on details, part of the US’s global strategy to reduce the size but increase the mobility of its forces, had been putting a severe strain on otherwise good US-Japanese relations.
The idea is to reduce the burden on Japanese citizens, especially in the southern island of Okinawa, who have protested against the noise, danger and elevated crime they associate with US bases.
To compensate, Japan is being asked to overcome some of the constraints of its pacifist constitution by co- operating more closely in joint security.
The two countries agreed to improve the inter- operability of their forces by shifting the headquarters of the US First Army Corps from Washington state to Camp Zama, near Tokyo. They will also share more intelligence.
Other pillars of the agreement include construction of a new heliport in strategically vital Okinawa to accommodate marines displaced from the island’s Futenma base. The headquarters of the Third Marine Expeditionary Force will move from Okinawa to Guam. Japan will pay the substantial costs involved in the heliport construction and troop redeployment.
Japan has also agreed to house a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Yokosuka port, near Tokyo, from 2008, a decision announced on Friday that provoked strong protest from local residents and politicians.
Many of the most important elements of the deal, have yet to be squared with local authorities. Politicians from both Okinawa and Zama have joined those from Yokosuka in vowing to fight the decisions.
Richard Lawless, the US deputy undersecretary of defence who led Washington’s negotiations, said Japan needed to do more to make the US-Japan security alliance more equal.
He said Tokyo had taken many significant steps in the past decade, such as sending troops to Iraq and signing up to joint missile defence. But he described such steps as “modest” in the context of Japan’s capabilities.
Yoshinori Ohno, head of the defence agency, said in an interview with the Financial Times last week, that Japan benefited from stability, including in the Middle East, and was obliged to play a bigger role. “Japan must transit from being a peace-loving nation to becoming a peace-supporting nation,” he said.
US Military Realignment Plans in Japan Face Strong Local Criticism
Mainichi Daily News
TOKYO (October 31, 2005) — Plans to realign US military forces in Japan triggered protest rallies Sunday and drew harsh opposition from local officials and citizens’ groups, who say not enough troops are leaving the country and the burden of hosting them is just being shifted from one community to another.
On Japan’s southern island of Okinawa — which hosts most of the 14,460 US Marines in the country — activists on Sunday staged a 5,000-strong rally to protest crimes, noise and pollution long associated with Marine bases, and to demand that more US troops be moved out of Japan than the 7,000 Marines envisioned in the plan.
Rallies also took place in Yokosuka, just outside Tokyo, where the US plans to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, as well as in western Japan.
A day earlier, Washington and Tokyo agreed to strengthen military cooperation, reduce the number of Marines on Okinawa and give Japan more responsibility for security in the Pacific region. “We cannot agree with a plan that simply passes around the burden of US bases within Japan,” Gov. Sekinari Nii of Yamaguchi prefecture (state), which hosts another large Marine contingent, told reporters Sunday.
The US plans to relocate a carrier jet and air squadrons from Tokyo to Yamaguchi’s Iwakuni city.
Iwakuni Mayor Katsusuke Ihara said his city and others had not been included in the decision-making process. “Japan and the US have made a unilateral decision, with no consultation whatsoever with local communities,” Ihara said. “I urge the Japanese government to provide an explanation, open its ears to local opinion, and enter into talks.”
“The US is simply playing a trick with numbers,” activist Takashi Kishimoto of the Okinawan Peace Movement Center said of plans to transfer about 7,000 Marines from Okinawa to the US Pacific island territory of Guam. “The actual functions of US bases in Okinawa, as well as risks to the local community, won’t be reduced at all.”
Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine earlier criticized plans to transfer the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from one part of Okinawa’s main island to reclaimed land off another part. Inamine said he wanted to see US bases moved off Okinawa altogether.
Environmentalists have said the planned project, using landfill to create a runway, would destroy part of a coral reef area that is home to the dugong, an endangered marine mammal.
Also Sunday, Tokyo Mayor Shintaro Ishihara complained that the city’s demand that a US air base in Tokyo be opened up to civilian flights had been ignored in the plans. US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said the two countries will work together to reduce the impact of the US military on Japanese communities. (AP)
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