Australian troops not welcome in Japan, says Okinawa governor

afr.com -- Apr 29
The governor of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa says Australian Defence Force personnel are not welcome on the 150 islands he administers, as fears grow that rising tensions between China and US allies will lead to conflict in the region.

Denny Tamaki, the top official in the region who is up for re-election this year, said in an interview that he was worried the existing concentration of US forces had already made the islands a target for hostile forces.

He said the Okinawan people did not support Australian or other foreign defence personnel holding joint military exercises in Okinawa. Australia and Japan signed a defence deal in January that will open the way for their forces to step up training and host each other’s military.

Mr Tamaki is at loggerheads with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government over the heavy concentration of US military bases in Okinawa and plans to relocate a US Marine base on the main island. There are some 30,000 US troops based on Okinawa, 1500 kilometres southeast of Tokyo.

While there are no plans to station Australian defence personnel in Japan, the Kishida government supports more joint military exercises with Australia, as it tries to deepen defence ties with Canberra and Washington because of shared concerns about China. ...continue reading