Japanese newspapers are reporting that the United States will be moving roughly 8,000 marines off of the island of Okinawa, reassigning them to Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Hawaii, and Northern Australia. The massive U.S. military presence on Okinawa—with fourteen bases covering eighteen percent of the island—has long been a highly controversial matter. Relocating the marines will be an expensive proposition, but much of the bill will be paid by Japan. According to a recent report in the Daily Yomiuri, Japan may contribute as much as $3.1 billion. Some of the funds will “cover part of the costs for the development of a U.S. base and related facilities in Tinian, part of the Northern Mariana Islands and a self-governing territory of the United States.” The report also added “the two countries are considering conducting joint training between U.S. troops and the [Japanese] Self-Defense Forces on the island [of Tinian].”
In related news, the Daily Yomiuri is also reporting that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is negotiating to buy three of the Senkaku Islands, hotly disputed among Japan, China, and Taiwan, from a private Japanese citizen. In announcing the plan, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara harshly criticized the government of Japan:
The central government is too scared to do anything. …. The Tokyo metropolitan government will protect the Senkaku Islands. How can anyone complain about the Japanese buying the islands to protect the nation’s territory, regardless of which country opposes such a move?