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Japan to Fortify US Military Installation in Okinawa

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Japan will soon begin fortification work on a new military installation in Okinawa that will house troops from the US Marine Corps.

The move is part of a government plan to relocate the USMC Futenma Air Station from Okinawa’s densely populated city of Ginowan to Nago City in southern Japan.

Defense sources told local media outlet NHK that concrete seawalls will be built around the planned reclamation area to help keep American troops and the facility safe.

They also said a test to drive piles at Oura Bay was conducted earlier this week to reinforce the seabed, which has been found to be soft.

But according to the Okinawa prefectural government, which opposes the relocation, the pile driving was not a test but the start of reinforcement work.

Official construction of the new seawall is expected to start on August 1.

Upgraded US Presence

The US military recently announced plans to boost its presence in Japan by replacing older fighter jets with F-15EXs and F-35s.

American troops at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa will receive 36 F-15EX Eagle II aircraft manufactured by Boeing to replace 48 F-15C/Ds.

A total of 48 F-35A Lightning IIs will also arrive at the Misawa Air Base in northern Japan to reinforce the 36 F-16 Fighting Falcons stationed there.

Additionally, the US Marine Corps said it will “modify” the number of F-35B stealth fighters at its air station in Iwakuni. However, the service did not provide exact figures.

In a separate announcement, the US Air Force said it is resuming V-22 Osprey operations in Tokyo following a fatal crash in 2023.

‘Ironclad Commitment’

According to the US Department of Defense, the modernization of America’s tactical capabilities in Japan is part of a more than $10-billion investment to enhance the alliance between the two nations.

It is aimed at bolstering regional deterrence and strengthening peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The department’s plan to station the Joint Force’s most advanced tactical aircraft in Japan demonstrates the ironclad US commitment to the defense of Japan and both countries’ shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it said.

Both Washington and Tokyo have boosted their national security in the face of China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

In a joint military exercise earlier this year, American and Japanese forces explicitly tagged Beijing as their “hypothetical enemy.”

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