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Kato repeats Tokyo's position on U.S. air base transfer in Okinawa

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The reasons why Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunori Kato says Henko is the only solution for the transfer of Futenma are: (1) to eliminate the danger of the base and (2) to maintain deterrence capability of the Marines intact.

The transfer may reduce burdens of the one section of Okinawan society but if it were to be transferred within Okinawa, will the burdens reduce from Okinawa as a whole?

Besides, it's not Futenma Air Station only that is so dangerous. Kadena Air Base is far more dangerous and hazardous as it has had more serious aircraft accidents involving civilian areas. So are Yokota Air Base and Atsugi Air Base in Metropolitan Tokyo for that matter. Shouldn't they be transferred somewhere else to reduce danger?

As for deterrence, the Marines don't have to be stationed in Okinawa. In fact, the most active elements of Okinawa-based Marines are to deploy to Guam soon when now-undergoing infrastructure building is completed. Hence the transfer of Futenma to Henoko, a training base for the active Marines, is nothing but the height of folly. Can Kato still insist Henoko is the only solution? LOL.

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He should not visit Okinawa using GoTo Travel. Okinawans will probably spit in his goya chanpuru.

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Talking to Kato is like talking to a mannequin.

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"Okinawa would be howling for the US military when the Chinese arrive at their shores."

Well, they sill got to improve a lot before they can actually get ashore.

"Japan detects apparent Chinese submarine traveling near Amami-Oshima Island"

"https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/06/21/national/japan-detects-foreign-submarine-amami-oshima/"

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Well, they sill got to improve a lot before they can actually get ashore.

Any force large enough to take Okinawa would be impossible to hide. It would be matter of assembling so much force the Japanese could not defeat it. Amphibious operations that size are not sneak attacks.

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Besides, it's not Futenma Air Station only that is so dangerous. Kadena Air Base is far more dangerous and hazardous as it has had more serious aircraft accidents involving civilian areas. So are Yokota Air Base and Atsugi Air Base in Metropolitan Tokyo for that matter. Shouldn't they be transferred somewhere else to reduce danger?

You are far more likely to die in an auto collision than from anything that happens from activities related to the US bases in Japan. Do you want help defending you from the Chinese or not? I want a serious answer, not uninformed conjecture.

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At the meeting with the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki also asked if an early return of Naha Military Port (U.S. Army Naha Port Facility) was possible. Tamaki should have rather asked for an UNCONDITIONAL return of it. 

To Tamaki's request, Kato replied he would take the issue back to Tokyo. Of course, he will sound Washington's thought and intention about it. But suppose Washington said No, adding its replacement must be built first at the planned new port area of Urasoe City. How would Kato explain why the military port must be relocated to Urasoe?

How will he detail the reason of his rebuttal of Tamaki's request to us? Will he say Urasoe is the only solution for the relocation of Naha Military Port because it can eliminate the danger the current location poses to Naha citizens, and also because the U.S. Army's deterrence capability must be maintained intact? A laughing-stock, indeed.

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Desert Tortoise,

You are far more likely to die in an auto collision than from anything that happens from activities related to the US bases in Japan.

If what you say is correct, then don't tell us Futenma must be relocated to Henoko because the current location is dangerous.

As for the rest of your post: Do you think that, unless Futenma is relocated to Henko, China will seize the chance to occupy Okinawa? Explain why.

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@Desert Tortoise

Do you want help defending you from the Chinese or not? I want a serious answer, not uninformed conjecture

Here is the serious answer. "If you want something done right, do it yourself". Japan SDF are very much capable of fully defending Okinawa and Senkaku against any Chinese invasion. No need for U.S. bases, which are not to defend Japan, but to mark its territory as the U.S. sphere of influence and to be a very useful forward deployment foothold for the U.S. military.

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As for the rest of your post: Do you think that, unless Futenma is relocated to Henko, China will seize the chance to occupy Okinawa? Explain why.

Without US forces on Okinawa to defend it, China would find it very easy to seize Okinawa. Since the former Ryukyu Kingdom was a Chinese vassal state China considers Okinawa to be traditional Chinese territory occupied by Japan. As they grow stronger, and please note they are building 40,000 ton big deck amphibious helicopter carriers with well decks for landing craft in about a year's build time at a yard in Shanghai, they will have more incentive to take Okinawa by force. They are also building large LPD amphibious transports with helicopter decks and big well decks for landing craft. It will not be long before China has the ability to launch an invasion of Okinawa if they so choose. Don't think China cares what Japan or any other nation thinks about what they do. When they sense weakness they will exploit it.

The choice the Chinese make depends very much on Chinese perceptions Americas ability to successfull defend Okinawa. If the people there make it too difficult to do by forcing the US to relocate their forces elsewhere, it many not be possible to defend Okinawa from invasion. There is a vast difference between defending the land your forces currently occupy and have set up defensive positions on vs having to fight one's way back on to Okinawa after a large Chinese force has invaded and established itself with their own defensive positions. Once US forces are off that island and former military facilities converted to other purposes defending it from invasion becomes close to impossible.

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Here is the serious answer. "If you want something done right, do it yourself". Japan SDF are very much capable of fully defending Okinawa and Senkaku against any Chinese invasion. No need for U.S. bases, which are not to defend Japan, but to mark its territory as the U.S. sphere of influence and to be a very useful forward deployment foothold for the U.S. military.

The Japanese currently have very little in the way of military on Okinawa. If it fell to them to defend with no US help, they would need to establish a force structure as large as that of the US and the residents of Okinawa would soon be crying about the presence of JASDF and JGSDF forces amongst them.

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If what you say is correct, then don't tell us Futenma must be relocated to Henoko because the current location is dangerous.

Btw, moving flight operations to Camp Schwab moves all the flight paths well away from populated areas. The new airfield will be on landfill off the end of Camp Schwab and all the approach and departure routes will be offshore over water.

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Desert Tortoise (Oct. 12 | 03:39 am JST),

You're completely off the mark. I'm asking you if the Marines' deterrence capability is reduced unless Futenma's function is maintained in Okinawa, that is, by relocating it to another place in Okinawa.

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Desert Tortoise,

Btw, moving flight operations to Camp Schwab moves all the flight paths well away from populated areas. The new airfield will be on landfill off the end of Camp Schwab and all the approach and departure routes will be offshore over water.

So you think, Futenma must be transferred to Henoko because the current location is very dangerous. That's what the central government has been repeating by saying "Henoko is the only option." Aren't flight paths at Kadena, Yokota and Atsugi over populated areas at all?

How will you coordinate what you say here and what you said before: "You are far more likely to die in an auto collision than from anything that happens from activities related to the US bases in Japan."

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Any US bases that aren't actually based in the US should be relocated back to the US. If you're under the illusion they're there to "protect allies" rather than for the self-serving interests of the US government, you're naive.

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So you think, Futenma must be transferred to Henoko because the current location is very dangerous.

That is not what I said. Do not twist my words. I said that since the proposed runway location off the tip of Camp Schwab places landing and departing traffic offshore it presents no hazard to populated areas. I made no statement about the safety of other US bases in Japan other than the provable fact that someone in Japan is statistically more likely to die from an automobile collision that from an aviation mishap involving the US military operating in Japan.

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You're completely off the mark. I'm asking you if the Marines' deterrence capability is reduced unless Futenma's function is maintained in Okinawa, that is, by relocating it to another place in Okinawa.

Yes. Aviation is integral to how the Marines fight. All of the Marines tactics and training revolve around the seamless, coordinated use of air and ground forces together in the same battle space. Their mobility depends on aviation, it one of the primary ways they move their forces around and supply them in combat. Without aviation the Marines cannot fight. Simple as that.

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Desert Tortoise

Yes. Aviation is integral to how the Marines fight. All of the Marines tactics and training revolve around the seamless, coordinated use of air and ground forces together in the same battle space.

Sure, aviation may be an integral part of how the Marines fight. So may be the Navy's amphibious assault ships. But that doesn't warrant Futenma's function must be maintained in Okinawa. It can be relocated to Hawaii, U.S. mainland, Guam or anywhere outside Okinawa. The most active elements of the Marines who are to use these ships and aircraft will not be in Okinawa but deploy to Guam.

Note also that it’s been bilaterally agreed that primary responsibility to defend Japan’s territory rests with Japan itself.

Under such circumstances is it absolutely necessary to build Futenma's replacement in Okinawa or, more specifically, at Henoko, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan?

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@Desert Tortoise

The Japanese currently have very little in the way of military on Okinawa

The key word "currently". When the U.S. forces leave, SDF will make re-alignment of their assets to the appropriate level.

If it fell to them to defend with no US help, they would need to establish a force structure as large as that of the US

They will. F-15s are already at Naha, the necessary rest will follow. Don't worry, Japan will be fine without U.S. military on its soil.

the residents of Okinawa would soon be crying about the presence of JASDF and JGSDF forces amongst them

Let the Japanese sort it out.

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An assertive China may be a godsend for the U.S. military because it gives them a rare opportunity to justify their presence in Japan, above all, in Okinawa -- justifying why Futenma's function must be maintained as it is and so why Futenma's replacement must be built at Henoko.

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Under such circumstances is it absolutely necessary to build Futenma's replacement in Okinawa or, more specifically, at Henoko, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan?

If you want the US Marines to be able to defend Okinawa, they must be present in force on the island with their air wing and a place to fly from. If there are no airfields suitable for the Marines to operate from they cannot fight. Period. A civil airfield would require a lot of work to support military aircraft as the military uses different navigation aids, different communications bands, different fuels and refueling equipment, etc.. Trying to defend Okinawa from Hawaii with no bases and forces in place on Okinawa, relying hopefully on Naha International Airport assuming it isn't already captured by the Chinese means the Marines have no infrastructure with which to mount a defense from. The would have to conduct an opposed assault from the sea against a dug in enemy force. Might as well wave the white flag and tell the Chinese to have fun with their new conquest. Hope your Mandarin is passable.

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And, btw, even if the US Marines leave, the JGSDF and JASDF will have to bring in a force as large as the departing Marine force. They will need bases and airfields to operate from. And unless the size of the JGSDF and JASDF are expanded, some other parts of Japan will be less protected or maybe even unprotected in order to protect Okinawa. Or perhaps you would prefer to be defenseless and take your chances on the good intentions of the CCP and PLA?

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They will. F-15s are already at Naha, the necessary rest will follow. Don't worry, Japan will be fine without U.S. military on its soil.

Without US forces on Japanese soil, Japan would survive about half an hour in a war with China. The only thing preventing China from nuking Japanese cities is the certainty the US would retaliate in kind and then some. Without that guarantee China would destroy Japan and Japan is utterly powerless to stop them on their own. Half my family is Chinese. They hate Japan, hate the Japanese and look forward to the day Japan is laid to waste. But as long as US forces are present in Japan and at risk in the event China tries to attack Japan, such a war would very likely remain conventional and winnable for the US and Japan working together. But without the presence of US forces there is no reason for China not to go nuclear out of the gate. The Chinese don't care what other nations think. They abuse their own people without mercy.

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Desert Tortoise,

If you want the US Marines to be able to defend Okinawa, they must be present in force on the island with their air wing and a place to fly from.

But the most active elements of them, combat units, will be deployed to Guam. They will not be in Okinawa with their air wing nearby. The assault ship Wasp is based in Sasebo. Still, do you say a new air base at Henoko for Ospreys to transport Marines from Guam is absolutely necessary?

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@Desert Tortoise

the JGSDF and JASDF will have to bring in a force as large as the departing Marine force. They will need bases and airfields to operate from

Kadena and other bases vacanted by the U.S. military will suffice.

some other parts of Japan will be less protected or maybe even unprotected in order to protect Okinawa

Let's see. From the Russians there is no threat: the territorial dispute is a diplomatic nuisance, but not a military threat, they do not have any designs on Hokkaido. JCG ships and patrol flights will be enough for that direction.

North Korea. It is a threat, but only in the form of missile attacks. Aegis destroyers and other anti-miisile measures will be enough.

The only real threat is from the southern direction, from China. There Japan's most military resources should be concentrated. Any other "unprotected parts of Japan"?

Without US forces on Japanese soil, Japan would survive about half an hour in a war with China

Seriously? Not two hours, not even one, but only half an hour? Why? Sure SDF are absolutely not battle-tested, but PLA neither can boast a long battle-winning track record. And before actually invade Okinawa the Chinese armada first must get there, and MSDF will be waiting.

without the presence of US forces there is no reason for China not to go nuclear

And for Japan there is no need to rely indifinetely on the U.S. good will and generosity, and no reason not to go nuclear itself.

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Desert Tortoise (Oct. 13 01:21 pm JST),

If you want the US Marines to be able to defend Okinawa, they must be present in force on the island with their air wing and a place to fly from

Does this mean you are in a position to know that Washington will renege on the bilateral agreement to transfer the Okinawa-based Marines' combat units to Guam, thus wasting a large amount of money Japanese taxpayers have already paid for infrastructure building on Guam?

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