Current prefectural governor Yasuhiro Tamaki, the first Amerasian member of Japan’s House of Representatives, and more frequently known as ‘Denny’, was elected to lead the sparsely populated prefecture in 2018, on a policy of opposing further expansion of the U.S. military in the prefecture.
There are currently over 30 U.S. bases in the prefecture – more than 60% of the total number of U.S. bases in Japan.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Tamaki said of the possibility “If there is such a plan, I can easily imagine fierce opposition from Okinawa residents.”
The U.S. military has been looking to counter increased an Chinese presence in the western Pacific in the seas near Okinawa for several years and as a result has been testing a range of missiles launched from different platforms that could serve as a regional deterrent.
Currently there are no land-based American missiles in the region although U.S. air and naval Forces on rotation through Japan, South Korea and the Philippines are capable of employing any weapons developed for use in the Western Pacific.
Adding mobile land-based weapons systems in any of the above nations, and even Australia, all of which have defence treaties with Washington, would prove extremely difficult for Chinese intelligence services to keep track, especially if a strategy of rotation through the regional allies of the Pentagon be seen as a solution to localised opposition on fixed deployments.
For now, Okinawans, and their governor, however, will have to wait and see just how Tokyo wants to move forward with national defence policy, with the very real possibility that once again, the nation’s southernmost prefecture will bear the brunt of U.S. troops and weaponry on the ground.