The US will move “more sophisticated weapons” into Okinawa as a Japanese governor has approved a measure that would allow the relocation of a controversial US military base on the island, an analyst says.
“The American military base in Okinawa has gotten into the news recently because the US has announced that it will reduce its troop strength there by nearly half, from 18,000 Marines to 10,000,” political analyst and writer Linh Dinn told Press TV on Saturday.
Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima signed off on the long-awaited relocation of the US military’s fiercely debated Futenma Air Station on Friday morning. The plan would allow the US to consolidate its troop presence on the southern Japanese islands and move some to Guam.
“Most of the departing soldiers will go to Guam, which is not all that far away,” Dinn said.
Many Okinawan residents complain about noise, the risk of accidents and a string of rapes and other crimes by US military personnel stationed on the island.
“Usually, you only hear about Okinawa when an American soldier has raped a local or run someone over by driving too fast, so this reduction in force is seen as a positive. Fewer soldiers mean fewer crimes,” Dinn said.
However, he added, “What’s lost in this relative good news is that the Pentagon is moving more sophisticated weapons into Okinawa, including anti-submarine planes, Stealth fighters and drones. This is the first time American drones are stationed in Japan.”
“So that’s the big picture,” the analyst noted. “The US and Japan are beefing up their military posture against China.”
“The American thinking is that if the US can threaten to cut off China’s access to oil and natural gas, it can control China’s behavior,” Dinn said. “So it’s all about intimidation.”
Nearly half of 47,000 US military personnel in Japan are stationed in Okinawa, where the soldiers have reportedly committed more than 5,800 crimes since the US returned the island to Japan in 1972.
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