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Arrival of more US troops from Okinawa seen

By Sugar Hicap

Manila, Philippines-The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the arrival of more US troops from Okinawa, Japan to the country is not a remote possibility after the new installed Japanese government rejected the presence of American military and the proposed new basing deal by 2014.

“Of course we are proud of the patriotic tradition and struggle of the Japanese people against US military aggression and intervention forces in Okinawa and entire Japan. In the name of global people’s solidarity and resistance to US imperialism and militarism, we in the Philippines should reject the Okinawa-based US military forces’ possible re-deployment in the country under the Visiting Forces of Agreement,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

The Pamalakaya leader noted hundreds of US troops from Okinawa where here in the country over the last three weeks and joined rescue and relief missions to calamity stricken areas in Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Northern Luzon.

“The US government under the Barack Obama administration is using the disaster situation in the country as a smooth way of getting in with or without prior notice for the forward deployment of their troops from Okinawa. To stop these overt and covert deployment and redeployment of American mercenaries, the government should immediately terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement ,” added Hicap.

Hicap said the US military command in Asia and the Pacific is now facing a major problem on where to move their US troops currently stationed and deployed in Okinawa. He said there are about 47,000 US military troops in Okinawa, and the decision of the Japanese people to dismantle the US military bases and the expulsion of US troops from Japanese soil is now creating a heavy problem to Washington D.C.

“Where and when they will move these White House mercenaries? As of now what is clear is the Washington government will exploit the VFA for the temporary, if not permanent basing of US troops all over the Philippines, while White House is convincing the new Japanese leadership to sign a new military deal that will allow White House to keep and expand its bases for its 47,000 regular troops in Okinawa,”the Pamalakaya leader said.

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said Thursday last week that US President Barack Obama should respect Japan’s democratic process in a row over a US base, adding that the issue would not be resolved before Obama’s visit next month.

Earlier, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates bluntly pressed Tokyo to “move on” quickly with previously agreed plans to build a new US airbase on southern Okinawa Island.

Japan’s new government has said it will review an agreement to build the new base by 2014 – a project opposed by many Okinawans who object to the US troop presence and complain of aircraft noise and the risk of accidents.

“The will of the people of Okinawa and the will of the people of Japan was expressed in the elections,” Okada said on television, predicting that the issue won’t be resolved before Obama’s scheduled November 12-13 visit.

“I don’t think we will act simply by accepting what the US tells us, just because the US is saying this, in such a short period of time.” Okada added.

Half of the 47,000 US troops stationed there all over Japan are currently in Okinawa, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Their presence has often caused friction with the local community, especially when American servicemen have committed crimes.

Under a 2006 bilateral agreement between US and Japan, the heliport functions of the base would be moved to a coastal area of Okinawa by 2014, while 8,000 Marines would be moved to Guam in a relocation to be partly financed by Japan.#

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Filed under politics, US intervention