2024年5月1日水曜日

DROPS NEW SELF-DEFENSE FORCE (SDF) TRAINING SITE PLAN IN OKINAWA, JAPAN

DROPS NEW SELF-DEFENSE FORCE (SDF) TRAINING SITE PLAN IN OKINAWA, JAPAN


@Jackie San


The Japanese Defense Ministry said Thursday it will give up on building a new training site for the Ground Self-Defense Force at the currently planned location in Okinawa Prefecture, citing concerns of nearby residents.


The new training site had been planned at a former golf course in Uruma as the ministry seeks to upgrade the GSDF brigade based in the southern island prefecture to a larger unit as part of efforts to strengthen Japan's defense capabilities in its southwest remote islands amid China's maritime assertiveness.


However, the proposal has faced opposition from Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki, Uruma Mayor Masato Nakamura, and nearby residents who have feared the adverse impact on their living environment. The former golf field is located adjacent to a residential area.


Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters in Tokyo that the ministry found that the current candidate site is "impossible" to fully satisfy the conditions for conducting GSDF exercises while also not disrupting the lives of the residents.


The ministry has earmarked the costs for purchasing the vacated golf course in the fiscal 2024 budget and has slated construction to start in fiscal 2026. The GSDF's upgrade of the 15th Brigade to what is known as a division is expected to take place by March 2028.


On an alternative site, Kihara said the ministry plans to "swiftly come up with an appropriate conclusion." According to government sources, the ministry aims to secure another place within Okinawa Prefecture.


Okinawa Prefecture hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, and anti-base sentiment runs deep due to noise, pollution and crimes committed by American service members.


Japan has been beefing up its defense posture over a chain of islands stretching from the southwestern main island of Kyushu toward Taiwan amid tensions with China, including over the Senkaku Islands, a group of Tokyo-controlled uninhabited islets in the East China Sea that Beijing claims.


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@Jackie San

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