Japan defense report criticizes China, supports US base realignment

July 22, 2015

Stars and Stripes:

…. Japan and the United States agreed to closer cooperation on missile defense earlier this year as part of security guidelines that were revamped for the first time since 1997.

This year’s report also included an expanded section on the Middle East, and particularly on the Islamic State group.

“The white paper speaks about the danger of radicalized groups and how advanced countries are faced with a higher risk of terrorist incidents — and Japan is no exception,” a defense ministry spokesman told reporters at a background briefing.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked about using Japanese forces to operate in the Middle East earlier this year while pushing forward legislation that would allow Japan to aid its allies in combat for the first time since WWII. The legislation has proved unpopular among Japanese concerned that it will involve the country in wars that pose no existential threat.

The white paper also reiterates the federal government’s commitment to closing U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and building a new runway at Camp Schwab in Okinawa.

The plan is supported by the United States but bitterly opposed by Okinawa’s governor, who has explored ways to halt construction.

Demonstrators frequently protest the construction and have called for Futenma’s functions to be moved off the island, where about half of U.S. forces in Japan reside. The military uses Futenma’s functions to provide transportation for Marines throughout the Asia-Pacific region….

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