Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Okinawa seeks help from Tokyo to ease tensions with China

TOKYO ( Associated Press) – Japan should do more to peaceful diplomacy with China and not just focus on deterrence as tensions rise west of Okinawa around Taiwan, the governor of the southern island prefecture said Friday, Seeking to further reduce its security burden and its risks, are hosting US military there.

“We are strongly concerned,” said Okinawa government Denny Tamaki after discussing a possible Taiwan emergency in parliament – particularly on the grounds that Okinawa lies 600 kilometers (370 mi) east of Taiwan due to its relative proximity. will be confused. China Sea.

Tamaki was speaking online from the prefectural capital of Naha ahead of Okinawa’s 50th anniversary of his return to Japan on May 15, which came 20 years after most of Japan gained independence from the post-war American occupation of 1945-1952. Had done

Instead of a celebratory mood, there is concern over Okinawa, with the heavy burden of hosting US troops amid rising tensions in the region over China’s increasingly assertive military actions and rivalry with the United States. There is also concern about the Russian invasion of Ukraine China can be encouraged.

In a warning to Taiwan’s independence supporters and their foreign allies, China is conducting threatening exercises and flying military planes near the island’s airspace.Including February 24, the day Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Despite this, Chinese officials, including leader Xi Jinping, say they are committed to using peaceful means to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control.

The US has consistently expressed its support for ensuring that Taiwan can defend itself, and Chinese military action against the island in the short to medium term is generally considered a remote possibility.

but the ongoing tension has rekindled fears among Okinawa people that they might be re-sacrifice by mainland Japan, as in the Battle of Okinawa, which killed some 200,000 people, half of whom were local civilians. were.

“Any escalation of problems on the Taiwan Strait and the contingency of being the target of an attack on Okinawa should never have been or should be allowed to happen,” Tamaki said.

Noting that China is Japan’s largest trading partner and Japan is China’s second largest, Tamaki said their closer economic ties would be inevitable.

“I call on the Japanese government to always maintain calm and peaceful diplomacy and dialogue to improve its relationship with China, while working to de-escalate US-China tensions.,” They said.

At the time of repatriation, Okinawa asked Japan to make it a peaceful island free of military bases. Today, it is still burdened by about 50,000 US troops and the majority of their military facilities in Japan under a bilateral security treaty.

Because of the concentration of the US military, Okinawa faces noise, pollution, plane crashes and crime related to US troops and their bases on a daily basis, Tamaki said.

In addition to those “visible problems,” he said, “there are also problems hindering Okinawa’s economic growth and structural problems. This excessive US base burden remains unresolved even 50 years after repatriation.”

Tamaki urged a government effort to raise awareness of the overload of Okinawa’s security, which he says should be shared by all of Japan.

Okinawa last year called on Tokyo and Washington to gradually halve the US military presence on Okinawa, accelerate the removal of Futenama Air Station from the congested neighborhood, and abandon the ongoing construction of the runway in Henoko. On the East Coast, he said.

“Okinawa’s burden of US military bases is a major diplomatic and security issue that concerns all Japanese people. We need to return to the core principle of burden sharing across Japan,” he said.

The central government has urged the government to move Futenma to Henoko, the biggest sticking point between Okinawa and Tokyo.

Japan’s central government maintains that the Henoko Plan is the only viable plan and has been forced to pursue it, despite years of rejection by the Okinawan people.

Okinawa’s development projects have helped the economy over the past five decades, while Okinawan’s median income has been the lowest of the 47 Japanese prefectures, Tamaki said.

Tamaki said that if the land taken by the US military is returned to the prefecture for economic use, it would triple Okinawa’s income belonging to the US military.

Japan sees China’s military growth as a regional threat and has moved its troops to the southwest to defend remote islands, including Okinawa and its outlying islands, while deploying missile defense systems and other facilities. Joint exercises with the US military are increasing. and other regional partners.


Nation World News Desk
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