According to Japan’s newspaper The Mainichi, four citizen groups and others in a southwest Japanese city on Feb. 3 urged the municipal administration to oppose a military plan by Tokyo and Washington. The project was for the temporary deployment of drones to a local base, affecting the safety and security of local people’s lives.

In response, the Kanoya city of Kagoshima government stated, “At the present juncture, we have not received a concrete explanation from the national government, and therefore cannot respond.” As a result, only the outset of the meeting was made public. 

Tokuji Matsushita, an 84-year-old spokesperson for the Osumi organization, which defends the Japanese Constitution’s war-renouncing Article 9, opposed the programs for threatening the safety and security of residents, suggesting that the mayor “announce that he strongly opposes it.” However, the mayor of Kanoya, Shigeru Nakanishi, did not attend the handover of the document. Instead, the dissent groups went to Kanoya City Hall and handed written opposition to Ryuji Gohara, the mayor’s chief of staff.

Matsushita commented, “These kinds of arms races will continue without end.” Therefore, “I want the central government to put a full effort into negotiations for peace.”

To guard China’s activities in Japan’s southwest archipelago, the US and Japanese defense authorities consider deploying an unmanned reconnaissance unit at the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (SDF) Kanoya Air Base in Kagoshima. The prospective date is after the Jan. 7 virtual meeting of the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”). The two countries signed a joint statement mentioning the necessity of strengthening the SDF’s posture in southwest Japan and coordinating facilities. 

The director of the Kyushu Defense Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Defense visited the director of Kanoya City on Jan. 27, telling him that it is necessary to allow the US military to strengthen its participation in defense of Japan’s southwest islands. Furthermore, he said it is essential to improve the alert and surveillance capabilities of the US alliance and enhance the intimidation and response capabilities of the US-Japan alliance.

Japan’s media outlet Sankei Shimbun reported Japan could use the deployment of the unmanned reconnaissance aircraft unit in Kanoya as logistical support for delivering materials to the front line because it is advantageous to have a base on Kyushu island where there is an airstrip.

According to the report, the US and Japan are considering deploying around seven MQ-9 aerial vehicles to the Maritime SDF’s Kanoya base. About 100 US personnel would operate and maintain the aircraft. The deployment period is tentatively contracted for one year.

Chinese maritime police ships frequently sailed around the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku Islands in Japan). Japan claims that Chinese maritime police ships sailed in the “adjacent waters” for 157 consecutive days, the most days ever on record, from February to July of last year. Last year, the Miyako Strait witnessed Chinese drones flying between the main island of Okinawa and Miyako Island for three consecutive days and the Chinese aircraft carrier “Liaoning” crossing the strait twice a year for the first time.

It’s reported that if US unmanned reconnaissance aircraft units were deployed at the Japan Maritime SDF’s Kanoya Air Base, it would be the first time the US military had used unmanned reconnaissance aircraft units at a Japanese SDF’s base.

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