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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 February 9 - 15  > US military in Okinawa arrogantly conducts military drills despite opposition
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2022 February 9 - 15 [US FORCES]

US military in Okinawa arrogantly conducts military drills despite opposition

February 10, 2022

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

In defiance of the cancellation demands of the Okinawa Prefectural and Naha City governments, the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in the prefecture forcibly began its military training exercises using MV-22 Ospreys, CH-53E helicopters, and other military aircraft at the U.S. Naha military port.

The military drills at the U.S. Army-managed Naha military port are scheduled to be held between February 8 and 13. About 250 members of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31MEU) will undergo training, such as training for guarding an U.S. embassy and for non-combatant evacuation. It is the first time that the 31MUE uses the Naha military port for such drills.

Nestled along the national road, the Naha military port is located in residential and commercial area which contains Naha Airport and leisure facilities, such as a ballpark. Naha City Mayor Shiroma Mikiko on February 7 said that U.S. military aircraft’s use of the Naha military port adjacent to the extremely busy Naha Airport will endanger the safety of Okinawans as well as visitors from outside Okinawa, and thus is unacceptable.

The Japan-U.S. Joint Committee Agreement, known as the “5.15 memo”, sets conditions on the use of U.S. military bases after Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972 and describes the main purpose of the Naha Military port as “port facilities and oil storage”.

Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny on February 8 pointed out that the USMC’s use of the Naha military port for its military drills differs from the main purpose stated in the 5.15 memo, and added that such a use is inexcusable as it will impose heavier U.S. base burdens on Okinawans. He stressed that the main purpose described in the 5.15 memo should be strictly adhered to. On the other hand, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu on the day made a remark in support of the U.S. military that the use of the Naha military port for the USMC’s drills accords with the main purpose in the 5.15 memo. This is inaccurate and unacceptable.

As U.S.-China tensions increase, the U.S. military drills in Okinawa become intensely aggressive. In addition, the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement allows the free use of U.S. bases in Japan, which is a serious problem. In order to reduce Okinawa’s burden of hosting U.S. bases, the need is for the Japanese government to end its subservience to the U.S. and instead demand a drastic revision of the SOFA and make diplomatic efforts to turn East Asia into a region of peace and cooperation.

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