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Saturday, Feb. 18, 2006
ASDF general labels China 'threat'
Is China a military threat to Japan or not?
The government's official position is no, but ASDF Maj. Gen. Hiroyuki Takiwaki, commander of Naha Air Base, seems to have given voice to the unspoken thoughts of many Self-Defense Forces officers by saying that it is.
At a gathering of local reporters Wednesday, Takiwaki said China's military buildup is a threat to the SDF in Okinawa, adding that the ASDF needs to use the prefecture's Shimojishima airport to deal with the threat.
"The U.S. forces share this concept and we are dissatisfied and skeptical about the fact that the government would not underline it," he said.
Although about 7,000 U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa will be relocated to Guam and elsewhere in Japan after the realignment of the U.S. military here, the bulk of its forces will remain to deal with the Chinese threat, Takiwaki said.
On Thursday, Takemasa Moriya, vice minister of the Defense Agency, tried to play down Takiwaki's remark, saying that although Japan will closely monitor China's military buildup, it does not consider Beijing a threat.
Gen. Tadashi Yoshida, chief of staff of the ASDF, said he summoned Takiwaki on Friday to ask what he meant by the remark and to instruct him to avoid comments that may cause a "misunderstanding."
Takiwaki was not reprimanded for the comments.