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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 June 7 - 13  > US forces in Japan should stop massive military buildup at Iwakuni Air Station
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2017 June 7 - 13 [US FORCES]
editorial 

US forces in Japan should stop massive military buildup at Iwakuni Air Station

June 7, 2017

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The U.S. military in Japan plans to deploy carrier-based aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station (Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture) as early as July. Iwakuni City Mayor Fukuda Yoshihiko says he will clarify his position on the plan in the June session of the city assembly. In the deployment plan, around 60 carrier jets will be stationed at the Iwakuni base. If the plan is implemented, the Iwakuni base will have nearly 130 military aircraft in total and become the largest air base in East Asia. The U.S. military is planning to strengthen functions at the Iwakuni base in an unprecedentedly large scale. This is evidently part of their efforts to create a massive facility for attacking enemy countries. Such a move is unacceptable because it will pose a high risk to Iwakuni residents’ livelihoods and safety.

Japan is the only country in the world that allows both U.S. Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF) and a Carrier Strike Group to be stationed on its territory. This situation should be called into question from the viewpoint of Japan’s sovereignty.

The U.S. Marine Corps has three MEFs. Of them, the third MEF, which is stationed mainly in Okinawa and Iwakuni, is the only one that is forward-deployed. The Iwakuni base, for example, hosts fighter jet units of the third MEF.

Among the homeports of the ten U.S. aircraft carriers, only the Yokosuka Naval Base (Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture) is located outside the U.S. In addition, the U.S. Navy Atsugi Air Facility (Ayase, Yamato, and Ebina cities in Kanagawa Prefecture) is the only base that now hosts carrier-based aircraft units.

In the Iraq war and other lawless wars in the past, the U.S. military repeatedly sent Marine Corps units and carriers from its bases in Japan. If the Iwakuni base accepts carrier-based aircraft as planned, it will become a facility combining two components of assault operations, Marine Corps units and aircraft carriers.

Iwakuni City Mayor Fukuda has argued that he will support the plan to deploy carrier aircraft to the Iwakuni base only when he sees progress in the project to construct a new U.S. base in Okinawa’s Henoko coastal area. Fukuda recently said that the prospects for the Henoko base completion appear to be good. However, Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi recently announced his intent to block the offshore base construction by using all possible means including a court battle to have an injunction placed on landfill work at Henoko. This means that the prospects for the new base to be completed remain dim.

People from both inside and outside Okinawa need to join hands to increase nationwide movements to put a halt to the military buildup of the Iwakuni base and the construction of the Henoko base.
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