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Yomiuri Shimbun says Tinian, Guam eyed for joint training exercises

IN what is perhaps a validation of the assessment made by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Yomiuri Shimbun stated that the Japanese and American governments are considering military facilities on Tinian and Guam.

Disputed islands infographicAs part of enhancing deterrent to crises, Yomiuri Shimbun reports that “also being considered is the preparation of military facilities in Guam and Tinian, part of the Northern Mariana Islands, to be shared by the SDF [Self Defense Forces] and U.S. forces, and conducting landing drills and other exercises. We believe such activities will be useful in boosting the defense of remote islands in and around the Nansei Islands, an area of increasing importance.”

“Nansei,” also known as Ryukyu, is the chain of islands between Japan and Taiwan which has been for centuries the bone of contentions between Japan, China and Taiwan.

These islands  —  with Okinawa as the biggest — along with  Diaoyou/Senkaku, are claimed by Japan.

China, however, continues to claim the Diaoyou islands.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the decision to tap training facilities on Guam and Tinian and use of drones was reached last week after Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met at the Pentagon on how they would jointly “study and discuss” guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation which outlines the methods of cooperation between the two governments’ military during contingencies.

At the meeting, the two defense ministers arrived at a decision to deploy the drones over the said disputed islands and Okinawa.

“The two countries are planning to base their surveillance activities in Guam and utilize the U.S. military’s Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance planes. These steps are expected to help the two countries share information before the outbreak of various incidents, and consider and discuss how to jointly deal with such events as situations develop,” said Yomiuri Shimbun.

Variety learned that at least three of these drones or Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk have been based on Guam since Sept. 2010.

The said move to conduct surveillance missions was part of the concrete measures being taken by Tokyo and Washington to bolster defense cooperation.

“The two countries will consider conducting surveillance activities in waters around Japan by using the U.S. military’s unmanned reconnaissance planes, and boost the two countries’ joint drills around Guam,” the editorial said.

The Japanese newspaper also said that as they embark on enhancing deterrent to crises, Tokyo and Washington are exploring a deterrent against emergencies through repeated joint information-gathering and reconnaissance activities as well as drills and sharing of facilities.

Moreover, the Japanese newspaper also said defense cooperation guidelines between Japan and the US was last revised in 1987 and owing to dramatic changes in the security environment in Northeast Asia, these guidelines require modification.

“It is time for Japan and the United States to seriously consider revising the guidelines again to deepen their alliance,” the newspaper said.

The said editorial also stressed that to maintain peace and stability in the region, “it is essential to steadily strengthen and expand defense cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces.”

While at the Pentagon, Morimoto was reported to have ridden the MV-22 Osprey troop transport, a hybrid tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane.

The Pentagon is eyeing to deploy the Osprey to Okinawa as early as next month.

Twelve of the Osprey had been shipped to Marine Corps station at Iwakuni in Japan.