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SECURITY > Okinawa

Okinawa allegedly being considered as site for deployment of intermediate-range missiles

  • October 13, 2019
  • , Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo
  • JMH Summary

Sunday’s Okinawa Times front-paged the disclosure by several USG sources that the Iejima Auxiliary Airfield in Okinawa is one of some 20 locations that the Pentagon is examining as potential sites for the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region. The paper claimed that the 20 sites are in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and Guam. According to the sources, several U.S. installations in Japan, including the the Iejima Auxiliary Airfield, have been explored as possible options. As concerns have been raised in the course of DOD examination about the Iejima option, including local opposition and possible adverse effects on the planned relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, the daily speculated that Iejima is unlikely to be selected.


According to an unnamed senior Pentagon official, Defense Secretary Esper allegedly briefed then-Defense Minister Iwaya in Tokyo on Aug. 7 on the outline of the deployment initiative, including the possibility of deploying intermediate-range missiles in Japan. While noting that the Japanese side did not strongly dismiss the possibility at the time, the same official was quoted as saying that “the Okinawa option cannot be ruled out completely in the event that both Australia and Guam refuse” to accept the deployment. An unnamed high-ranking DOS official reportedly noted that Japan may be chosen since Australia has already rejected the idea.   


Meanwhile, Ryukyu Shimpo wrote on Saturday that an influential U.S. security analyst said he is aware of the U.S. idea of deploying intermediate-range missiles in Okinawa and other locations in Japan and that the “chances are extremely high” that conventionally-armed cruise missiles similar to Tomahawks will be deployed in Japan. John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies, said Australia has already said no to deployment of U.S. intermediate-range missiles on its territory and that South Korea and the Philippines are also likely to do likewise. The researcher projected that even if Japan were to voice opposition, President Trump would strongly press Tokyo to accept the deployment. He added, though, that Guam or Palau could be a last resort in the event that Japan refuses.




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