Okinawa, fifty years after its restitution by the United States, remains a strategic forward base

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The Japanese archipelago of Okinawa celebrates this Sunday, May 15, the fiftieth anniversary of its retrocession by the Americans to the Japanese. The festivities organized for the occasion, however, are struggling to hide concerns about regional tensions and China’s inclinations.

with our correspondent in Tokyo, Frederic Charles

The last island in the Okinawa archipelago is located about a hundred kilometers from Taiwan. An invasion of Taiwan by China would represent “an existential threat” for Japan, which is strengthening its military presence in Okinawa. And could be called upon to intervene alongside the United States to defend Taiwan.

Read also : to Japan, the locations of American bases still controversial

Fifty years after the return of their archipelago to Japan, the inhabitants of Okinawa fear such an eventuality. Amplified since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In 1945, Okinawa had already served as a shield for Japan to delay the invasion of its main island by the United States.

Okinawa is strategically important: US bases are used to “contain” China and monitor North Korea. The island is home to two-thirds of the 50,000 American soldiers deployed in Japan. Even since the Russian war in Ukraine, the youngest inhabitants of Okinawa, who have not experienced the war, are resigned to the presence of American bases. Despite their nuisances: noise, accidents, crimes.

But in the event of a crisis in Taiwan, Okinawa would be directly exposed to Chinese missile fire against American bases.

Also to listen : Okinawa, resistance against the construction of a new American military base

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