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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 August 23 - 29  > Except for Japan, number of US troops deployed overseas shrinks
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2017 August 23 - 29 [US FORCES]

Except for Japan, number of US troops deployed overseas shrinks

August 27, 2017
The number of U.S. troops deployed abroad has fallen to a 60-year low, with the largest percentage of troops stationed in Japan. This was shown in a report that the Pew Research Center published on August 22 based on U.S. Department of Defense data.

As of September 2016, just more than 193,000 American troops were dispatched to facilities outside the country. Of them, 38,818 were in Japan, 34,602 in Germany, and 24,189 in South Korea, together accounting for more than half of the total. The U.S. military assigns a large number of military personnel to Japan apparently because the Japanese government offers financial support for their stationing costs and other privileges to the U.S. military.

The July 25 issue of the U.S. “Foreign Affairs” magazine (e-edition) carried an article indicating that U.S. overseas military bases are “no longer a strategic asset”. The article by a researcher at the U.S. Cato Institute states that such bases are said to have a deterrence effect, but in reality they do not. The article adds that the U.S. military presence overseas would most likely stir enemy countries’ fears and provoke unnecessary conflicts. It also points out that more than 90% of U.S. air bases in Japan and in other northeast Asian countries are within the range of Chinese ballistic missiles and that these bases can be prime targets for missile attacks.

In addition, a U.S. think tank, the Rand Corporation says that it is becoming less and less important for the U.S. to forward deploy its military. It notes that the U.S. military is now able to airlift its land forces to anywhere in the world from the mainland almost as quickly as from nearby overseas bases thanks to the advancement in military technologies.

The Abe government is going in the opposite direction to the U.S. move to reducing its military’s overseas presence. It is spending three trillion yen of taxpayers’ money for the strengthening of U.S. base functions in Japan including the planned new base in Okinawa’s Henoko district. The Japanese government shoulders 70% of the stationing costs of the U.S. military in the country. It still believes in the deterrence value of U.S. bases and wants them to stay in Japan, although these facilities are within the range of missile attacks and strategically vulnerable.

In the first place, when a country stations its military in other countries for a long time, it should be a violation of sovereignty. The Japanese government should decide to change its policy of subservience to the U.S. which has led to the large seemingly permanent U.S. military presence in Japan.
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