Japanese think tank argues for moving Marines off Okinawa
TOKYO — The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit could leave Okinawa without sacrificing its value as a security provider in the Asia-Pacific, a Japanese think tank said following a study of alternatives to building a new runway opposed by the island’s governor.
It’s a point of view speakers from the New Diplomacy Initiative, a Tokyo-based think tank, conceded wasn’t likely to sway the security establishment, during a press conference Friday.
However, the academics, journalists and a former government defense official argued that plans to build a new runway for Marine aircraft are so unpopular on Okinawa that they risk straining the broader U.S.-Japan security agreement.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Japan Defense Minister Tomomi Inada each said in Tokyo that a new runway built over Oura Bay in rural Henoko is the only way forward in realigning U.S. forces in the region, amid increasing tensions with both China and North Korea.
The runway would help relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is in what has become a densely populated part of central Okinawa.
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