Japan Defense Ministry Mulled Stationing GSDF Unit at Camp Schwab

Politics

Tokyo, Jan. 27 (Jiji Press)--Officials of Japan's Defense Ministry studied in 2015 a plan to permanently deploy an amphibious unit of the Ground Self-Defense Force at the U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Schwab in the southernmost Japan prefecture of Okinawa, it has been learned.

The plan was considered within the Japanese government at the time, but it was dropped as "the burden on Okinawa would be large," informed sources said.

The Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, dubbed the "Japanese Marines," was formed in 2018 to protect remote islands. Two regiments of the brigade are stationed at the GSDF's Camp Ainoura in the city of Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan. The establishment of another regiment by fiscal 2023 has been decided under Japan's current medium-term defense buildup program, but its location has yet to be decided.

The deployment plan at Camp Schwab, located in the Henoko coastal district in the city of Nago, was drawn up by then GSDF Chief of Staff Kiyofumi Iwata and Lawrence Nicholson, then commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force of the Marine Corps. In addition to boosting cooperation between the two allies' forces, the plan was apparently aimed at strengthening deterrence against China's increasing maritime activities around the Nansei southwestern islands in Japan.

Japan is currently not considering the plan, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Wednesday at a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the country's parliament. A senior Defense Ministry official also said that the decision not to adopt the plan was "a done deal."

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press