The Japanese government has indicated at the House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting that it will continue to provide Kuba and Taisho islands of the Senkaku Islands for the use of the U.S. military as firing and bombing ranges.
When questioned by Liberal Democratic Party upper house member Tsuneo Kitamura at the meeting on Wednesday, Yutaka Arima, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry’s North American Affairs Bureau, said: “These facilities and areas must continue to be available for use by the U.S. military in order to achieve the objectives of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.”
According to the Defense Ministry, the U.S. military is supposed to notify Japan at least 15 days before using the exercise areas, but there has been no notification since June 1978.
By leaving open the possibility that the U.S. military will continue to use the areas, the government aims to restrain China, which has repeatedly carried out provocative actions by intruding into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands with its coast guard’s vessels, observers said.
The two islands were already designated as firing and bombing ranges for naval gunfire and aircraft bombing exercises when they were under the administration of the United States under the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty.
The administration of the islands was reverted to Japan in 1972 as part of the Okinawa Reversion Agreement between Japan and the United States, but the exercise areas were retained by Japan-U.S. agreement.