Full move to Guam nixed
Monday, 28 December 2009 04:36
by Mar-Vic Cagurangan | Variety News Staff
Report blows whistle on 10,000 ‘ghost troops’
JAPAN’S Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has dropped his administration’s tentative proposal to relocate the entire U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station in Okinawa to Guam, saying the idea was “unrealistic in light of the deterrence'' provided by the U.S. forces, Kyodo News reported yesterday.
“'There was a time when we should have studied the possibility of total relocation (of Futemma Air Station) to Guam,” Kyodo news quoted Hatoyama as saying.
He suggested that Japan may have no other choice but to stick to the 2006 agreement between the United States and Japan, which involves the transfer of 8,000 U.S. Marine Corp troops and their dependents.
With Hatoyama giving up the complete transfer of Marines to Guam, the government will now have to seek alternative sites in Japan as no other overseas location for hosting the U.S. military base is being considered, according to Kyodo News.
A Japanese expert on international affairs, however, claimed the relocation plan was based on a bogus blueprint with numbers fabricated by Japan’s Foreign Ministry.
Tanaka Sakai, creator and editor of Tanaka News, said the Foreign Ministry fabricated 10,000 “phantom troops” to maintain a myth that 10,000 Marines will remain on Okinawa after the transfer of 8,000 units to Guam.
Citing figures from the American Military’s Japan headquarters, Sakai said the actual numbers of Okinawa-based Marines are 12,500 and 8,000 dependents for a total of 20,500.
“Now if we close our eyes to the negative number of family members, the total number of Marines and their dependents remaining on Okinawa should only be 3,500,” Sakai in his article titled "Japanese Bureaucrats Hide Decision to Move All US Marines out of Okinawa to Guam," published by The Asia-Pacific Journal Dec. 21.
“The Okinawa-based Marines are steadily moving to Guam while leaving a phantom force of 10,000 and continuing to receive huge sums of money from Japan. However, on the premise that 10,000 Marines will remain, talk continues about the need to build a new base in Henoko and the voices of opposition of the Okinawa people grow louder,” Sakai said.
He suggested that the Henoko project, which consists of barracks and entertainment facilities, would be further wasteful spending because the facility would be used only briefly at the height of the troop relocation in 2014.
The “phantom troops” were presented in the plan to justify the Henoko project, which Sakai said was the Japanese government’s way of pleasing and bribing the United States.
The 2006 accord between the United States and Japan was forged when the Liberal Democratic Party was the ruling administration, which was perceived to be sympathetic to the United States.
On the other hand, Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan, which defeated LDP in the August elections, has been showing resistance to the U.S. pressure.
The idea of relocating the entire Futenma force to Guam originally came from the United States, according to Sakai.
The proposal was actually included in the “Guam Integrated Military Development Plan” which was drawn up in July of 2006 and released in September.
“The American military, knowing that Japan would pay the construction costs, can be thought to have decided on a plan to develop Guam as a unique global integrated military center,” Sakai wrote.
“The U.S.-Japan Roadmap had earlier called for the removal of Marines from Okinawa to Guam ‘in a manner that maintains unit integrity.’ This also hinted that the transfer would not only involve Marine Corps headquarters but the relocation of combat units as well,” he added.
The Guam Integrated Military Development Plan was posted on the Department of Defense’s website in September, but was deleted one week later, Sakai said.
“Perhaps the Guam Integrated Military Development Plan revealed too much, causing fear that people would wake up to the fact that the Okinawa-based Marines were planning a complete withdrawal. It may have been this fear that caused the site to disappear so quickly,” Sakai said.