So asked the Asahi Shimbum newspaper. The Asahi got back many answers.
The most detailed explanation about what the Marines would do was made by U.S. Ambassador John Roos at a speech he gave in January at Tokyo’s Waseda University.
“The Marines in Okinawa would play a similar rapid response role in any armed conflict in the region, arriving first on the scene to secure critical facilities, conduct civilian evacuations, and provide forward land and air strike power,” he said.
That’s a “detailed answer”?
Ken Jimbo, an associate professor at Keio University specializing in international security, said there were three main duties expected of the Marines.
One was to gain control of nuclear weapons and nuclear-related facilities in North Korea should that regime collapse. The second would be to protect U.S. and Japanese civilians if fighting broke out in Taiwan or North Korea.
The final duty would be defense of Japan’s outlying islands.
Jimbo said the Marines could serve as a deterrent “to the Chinese navy that has become much more active in the waters around Japan recently.”
However, in terms of North Korea, Jimbo said of the Marines “their main task would be to respond to fighting that erupted after the deterrence was broken, rather than serve as a barrier to attack.”
That’s a lot better.
However, Satoshi Morimoto, a professor of security issues at Tokyo’s Takushoku University who has been engaged in alliance matters through the Air SDF and the Foreign Ministry, said the main task of the Marines would be securing a land base that would be required as part of a Navy aircraft carrier attack group.
A Navy aircraft carrier task group does not need a land base. A Navy aircraft carrier is a base. Perhaps the professor was misunderstood, and meant that the Marines would secure a land base for Marine aviation units.
Here’s something that pops from the article.
The curious thing about Hatoyama’s understanding about the role of the Marines is that many Japanese officials do not know how those Marines would be used in various circumstances and have no idea what is an appropriate force level for Marines in Okinawa.
Because Japanese government officials do not know what the Marines would do during a conflict, they also cannot judge what an appropriate force level would be.
Is it not a little strange that Japanese government officials are not privy to the contingency plans of foreign troops stationed on their own soil? What possible reason would there be to not informing the Japanese, in a relationship so close as that between the United States and Japan? Can you see why some Japanese might resent the unequal relationship?
And don’t tell me “it’s to keep the Japanese down…” that’s clearly not necessary anymore.
A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch