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Winning the hearts and minds of Okinawans is critical to strengthening Japan’s own defenses against China, Russia and North Korea, one of Japan’s leading security experts said Thursday. Support from Okinawans is also key to smoothing over difficulties in Tokyo’s military alliance with Washington, said Kunihiko Miyake, the research director at the Canon Institute for […]
Winning the hearts and minds of Okinawans is critical to strengthening Japan’s own defenses against China, Russia and North Korea, one of Japan’s leading security experts said Thursday.
Support from Okinawans is also key to smoothing over difficulties in Tokyo’s military alliance with Washington, said Kunihiko Miyake, the research director at the Canon Institute for Global Studies.
Speaking at a Hudson Institute online forum, Miyake said China’s missile launches that landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone should be viewed as “another black ship” for Tokyo. He was referring to the unexpected arrival of an American flotilla commanded by Matthew C. Perry in 1853 that within a year opened Japan to a trade agreement with the United States. China launched the missiles last month to show its anger over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan.
Now with Washington and Tokyo voicing support for Taiwan, the Status of Forces Agreement between the two nations has taken on new significance. It “has been the most difficult issue” to resolve over the years, Miyake said. One example of that difficulty is the seven years-long controversy surrounding the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The American military presence on 31 installations located on Okinawa remains a concern among Okinawans as tensions with China has risen.
What makes Okinawa so strategically important is geography, Miyake said. The threat from China to Japan comes from the sea and the south. Okinawa is about 500 miles north of Taiwan. About 70 percent of the U.S. military presence in Japan is on Okinawa.
In a serious review of the agreement, he suggested “increasing joint use of bases” in Okinawa. The U.S. forces assigned to Okinawa “would be regarded as guests” of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. He added that 70 to 80 percent of the miliary bases on the island are under American control.
“It’s a headache for Okinawans,” he said.
Miyake argued this would be one step necessary “to make ourselves more ready for a contingency.”
Looking at Tokyo’s defense spending, Miyake said the government has “to raise the Japanese public’s awareness” of the need to increase defense spending from 1.2 percent of gross domestic product. He noted the NATO standard for its members is to reach 2 percent of GDP and allocate that percentage to security.
The public also needs to understand the reasoning for increased defense spending that is likely to emerge in three important national security-related strategy documents due out by the end of the year.
“It will be very difficult” to move all these proposals through the Japanese Diet, he said.
In earlier remarks, Miyake said, “we cannot defend ourselves” without an ally, like the United States. But Japan needs to help secure itself as well through security spending and strategy.
“Even if we have an alliance, if you don’t have a defense, allies won’t help you,” making it imperative that the Japanese public see what the current close military relationship between Moscow and Beijing means in terms of their own security. Less than a week ago, the Chinese and Russian navies held joint live-fire drills around Japan as part of a larger military exercise.
If nothing is done, Miyake added, “we won’t have enough bullets; we don’t have enough missiles” in the nation’s arsenal for a prolonged conflict. He also noted shortfalls in ships for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and also funds to re-align Japan’s ground forces so they’re more like the U.S. Marine Corps.
“In my neighborhood, we have 2.5 threats” that need to be addressed, Miyake said, referring to China, Russia and North Korea. Tokyo “could do more with the Quad,” the informal security and economic arrangement between Japan, the U.S., Australia and India. He also cited the need for closer coordination with Seoul and Washington in dealing with Pyongyang and Beijing.
Miyake, who has diplomatic experience in the Middle East, said Tokyo’s future security can’t be solely focused on the Indo-Pacific. Japan’s economy is dependent on sea lines of communication into the Middle East for energy and trade with Europe.
“Did the 5th Fleet leave the Gulf? Did the [U.S.] Air Force leave the Gulf?” after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Miyake asked rhetorically, referring to the Middle East-based U.S. 5th Fleet. “No,” he added. “Without them we wouldn’t have the sea lines of communication.”
He said a strong NATO stabilizes European security and reminds Russian President Valdimir Putin that “a dictator’s mistakes are much more difficult to amend,” like his invasion of Ukraine. The Feb. 24 unprovoked attack not only drew the alliance closer together, but moved Sweden and Finland to apply for membership. He added that the NATO alliance also welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Youn Suk-yeol to the June meeting in Madrid.
“The Russians made a big mistake” not realizing that their largest security challenge was China, not NATO, Miyake argued.
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A total of 21 United States partner nation ships, including one submarine, from 14 countries are now docked at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific 2022 (RIMPAC 2022) exercise that kicks off today. Twenty-six nations, including the United States as the host, are taking part in the exercise scheduled to […]
A total of 21 United States partner nation ships, including one submarine, from 14 countries are now docked at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific 2022 (RIMPAC 2022) exercise that kicks off today.
Twenty-six nations, including the United States as the host, are taking part in the exercise scheduled to go through August 4 in and near the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
The largest contingent is from the Republic of Korea (ROK), which sent three ships and one submarine, followed by the Royal Australian Navy, with three ships. Canada, Japan and Mexico sent two ships each, while Chile, France, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines and Singapore each sent a single ship. Several of the ships included embarked helicopters for the biennial drills.
Although the U.S. Navy has not yet officially issued the list of partner nation ships taking part, official news releases over the past month from the navies and defense ministries of the countries taking part have allowed USNI News to compile the list below:
- Landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (L02)
- Frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152)
- Replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195)
- Frigates HMCS Vancouver (FFH331) and HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338)
- Frigate Almirante Lynch (FF07)
- Frigate FS Prairial (F731)
- Frigate INS Satpura (F48)
- Frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332)
- Helicopter Destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183)
- Destroyer JS Takanami ((DD-110)
- Corvette KD Lekir (FSG26)
- Frigate ARM Juárez (POLA-101)
- Landing ship tank ARM Usumacinta (A412)
- Replenishment ship HMNZS Aotearoa (A11)
- Corvette BAP Guise (CC-28) – corvette
- Frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151)
Republic of Korea
- Landing helicopter platform ROKS Marado (LPH-6112)
- Destroyers ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991) and ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH-976)
- Attack submarine ROKS Shin Dol-seok (SS-082)
- Frigate RSS Intrepid (69)
Thirty-eight surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, over 170 aircraft and about 25,000 personnel will take part in the drills, according to a U.S. 3rd Fleet news release about RIMPAC 2022.
Countries participating include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States. Countries not represented by ships at the exercise will be represented by ground elements, along with participation either in the various combined command and staff groups or as observers.
Four countries – Australia, India, Japan and the ROK – have confirmed that their fixed wing aircraft will join, with two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), an Indian Navy P-8I MPA, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) P-1 MPA and a Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) P-3 Orion MPA.
Ground elements disclosed include:
- A Joint Landing Force from Australia, which will have a platoon from His Majesty’s Armed Forces of Tonga, an Indonesian Marine Corps platoon, a Mexican Marines company, and a New Zealand Army Joint Fires Team that will include Joint Terminal Attack Controllers.
- The ROK will field a substantial ground element with a ROK Marine Corps company, four Naval Special Warfare Flotilla teams and a Naval mobile construction squadron.
A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) element of 40 personnel will also participate in RIMPAC, though Japan has yet to specify what the JGSDF element will be doing in the exercise.
Prior to Tuesday, a number of the ships taking part in RIMPAC carried out joint sailing and exercise activities. Canadian frigates Vancouver and Winnipeg, Chilean frigate Almirante Lynch and Peruvian corvette Guise – along with U.S. Navy ships that included destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) – conducted a joint sail from San Diego to Hawaii that included maneuver, gunfire, replenishment and communication exercises.
#RIMPAC 2022. Durante su travesía a Honolulú, Hawaii–EE.UU, el #BAPGuise participó en el entrenamiento “Group Sail” junto a unidades de las Marinas de Canadá, Chile y EE.UU, realizando ejercicios de artillería, maniobras tácticas, comunicaciones y transferencia de combustible. pic.twitter.com/MpH6nedqGB
— Marina de Guerra (@naval_peru) June 27, 2022
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) pulled into Hawaii on Tuesday ahead of the start of RIMPAC.
After the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and the Australian RIMPAC 2022 contingent sailed together last week, Japanese helicopter destroyer Izumo and destroyer Takanami carried out a replenishment exercise with USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187) on Sunday before doing a joint exercise with French frigate Prairial on Monday.
27 JUN, #IPD22 unit JS IZUMO and JS TAKANAMI conducted a bilateral exercise "OGURI-VERNY" with FS PRAIRIAL in vicinity of Hawaii, and strengthened cooperation with French Armed Forces in French Polynesia which deployed ship to Indo-Pacific region.
— Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (@jmsdf_pao_eng) June 28, 2022
Royal Malaysian Navy corvette Lekir also carried out a replenishment exercise with Henry J. Kaiser before docking into Pearl Harbor on Tuesday.
KD LEKIR met with USNS HENRY J. KAISER for an underway replenishment in the waters of Hawaii before heading to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for #RIMPAC2022 #NavyUpdate #CapableAdaptivePartners pic.twitter.com/XbSM0CzPb9
— Royal Malaysian Navy (@tldm_rasmi) June 27, 2022