In what can only be considered a role reversal, the DPJ, which campaigned on removing the US military off of Okinawa, has approved the 2011 host-nation support budget over the objection of the LDP, the party that has historically closer ties to the US.
The Diet will approve on Thursday a government proposal to keep Tokyo’s annual expenditures to host U.S. forces in Japan at the current annual level of 188.1 billion yen for a five-year period from fiscal 2011, lawmakers said Tuesday. The prospect of the approval will enable Japan to avert a fiscal blank period from April 1, during which time the government would have lost a legal ground necessary to spend state funds associated with the hosting of U.S. bases in Japan.
The approval decision came as the ruling bloc managed to win over the No. 1 opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which refused Friday to vote on the proposed Japan-U.S. accord pact to maintain the level of host-nation support expenditures, putting the bilateral alliance at risk at a time when U.S. forces are offering relief for disaster-hit Japan.
Yeah, nothing like the emotion of the moment to get in the way of long-tern policies. The US, by their count has somewhere close to 22,000 people helping in the relief efforts in Japan. By contrast, they sent 22,200 to Haiti after their earthquake. Here is the scope of the military relief efforts.
Support of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
Number of military personnel (peak level): 22,268
Number of U.S. Navy ships: 23
Number of U.S. Coast Guard ships: 10
Number of fixed-wing aircraft: 264
Number of helicopters: 57
Liters of water distributed: 2,600,000
Humanitarian rations packages distributed: 2,900,000
Bulk food delivered (pounds): 17,000,000
Number of Meals-Ready-to-Eat delivered: 2,700,000
Number of emergency radios distributed: 73,300
Hours of emergency radio broadcasts: 660
Supported distribution of emergency shelter to 1,170,000 people
Supported 16 World Food Program distribution points.
Supported development of two transitional camps and improvements in nine camps
Number of internally displaced persons (IDP) relocated from high flood risk areas: 3,884
Number of DoD-coordinated flights into Haiti and neighboring Dominican Republic from January 12 to March 15, 2010: 3,989
Number of American citizens transported out of Haiti: 16,412
Air delivered relief (pounds): More than 36 million
U.S. government medical personnel in Haiti (peak level): 1,100
Number of hospital beds provided (peak level): 1,400
Number of patients aboard all ships (peak level): 543
Pounds of medical supplies delivered: 149,045
Number of surgeries performed by U.S. military: 1,025
Number of medical evacuations: 343
Number of patients treated by U.S. military: 9,758
Number of Haitian engineers trained: 160
City streets cleared of rubble (cubic yards): 12,724
Number of structures assessed: (Current as of 23 April 2010) 25,522
Seaport Flow: Port re-opened on January 22, 2010 with U.S. Military assistance
Number of ship containers off-loaded: Twenty-foot Equivalent units (TEU) 8,867
Airport Flow Pre/Post-Earthquake:
- Pre-quake average was 20 flights per day
- Post-quake peak capacity of 168 flights in one day
- Airport Timeline:
January 13: U.S. Military re-opens airport at request of Government of Haiti and begins 24/7 operations
February 18: Government of Haiti begins gradual assumption of air traffic control duties
February 19: Commercial flights resume
March 16: Government of Haiti resumes full air traffic control of airport
Following the 26 December 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the U.S. military responded quickly, sending ships, planes, and relief supplies to the region. Coordinated by Joint Task Force 536, established at Utapao, Thailand, the Navy and the Marine Corps shifted assets from the Navy’s Pacific Command within days. The rapid response once again illustrated the flexibility of naval forces when forward deployed.
The Navy deployed four Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 P-3 Orion patrol aircraft from Kadena, Japan, to Utapao to fly reconnaissance flights in the region and five VP-8 P-3s began flying missions out of Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory. The Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group [including Shoup (DDG 86), Shiloh (CG 67), Benfold (DDG 65) and USNS Ranier (T AOE 7)] and the Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) Expeditionary Strike Group [including Duluth (LPD 6), Milius (DDG 69), Rushmore (LSD 47), Thach (FFG 43), Pasadena (SSN 752) and USCG Munro (WHEC 724)] steamed to Indonesia from the Pacific Ocean. Marine Corps disaster relief assessment teams from Okinawa, Japan, flew in to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and were later joined by U.S. Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Units from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Lastly, a total of eleven ships under the Military Sealift Command (MSC) proceeded to the region from Guam and Diego Garcia.
Nineteen SH-60 Seahawk helicopters from the ships of the Abraham Lincoln group began flying reconnaissance, evacuation, and relief sorties over Indonesia on 31 December. The Bonhomme Richard group arrived on 3 January and her embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) began using their 24 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters to deliver supplies to damaged areas along the coast of Indonesia.
In early January six ships from Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron 3 – MV lst Lt. Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011), SS Maj. Stephen W. Pless (T-AK 3007), MV Cpl. Louis J. Hauge Jr. (T-AK 3000), MV Pfc. James Anderson Jr. (T-AK 3002), MV 1st Lt. Alex Bonnyman (T-AK 3002) and USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin (T-AK 3015) – got underway from Diego Garcia. Collectively, these ships carry enough equipment and supplies to support 15,000 Marines for 30 days, including road-building supplies, electrical power generators, and other emergency equipment. These ships’ water purification machines and evaporators are capable of producing more than 100,000 gallons of potable water per day and pumping it to shore from up to two miles away. In addition, the MSC fleet replenishment oilers USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199) and USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194) as well as the combat stores ship USNS San Jose (T-ASF 7) joined Rainier in providing fuel and supplies to U.S. Navy ships in the tsunami relief area. Lastly, two MSC oceanographic ships have been ordered into the affected area to conduct hydrographic surveys of the ocean bottom where the 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred. USNS Mary Sears (T-AGS 65) and USNS John McDonnell (T-AGS 51) will sail from Sasebo, Japan, in mid-January.
Compare this to the US response in Japan from the Department of Defense website.
Operation Tomodachi (Japanese for “friendship”) involves 14 U.S. Navy ships, more than 100 aircraft and thousands of U.S. service members either assisting or prepared to assist the Japanese people.
Of course, there’s much more than that. In fact, the various service arms all have a run-down of their efforts. Surprisingly, it seems the majority of forces do not come from Okinawa. But, that’s okay.
Meanwhile, as we pointed out 2 days ago, the US is taking advantage of the situation to attempt to insinuate itself more into the Japanese society and government. But this is a ploy that has been used before.
The tragic and devastating power of 2004’s post holiday tsunami was plastered across the cover of practically every newspaper around the world for the better part of a month. As the death toll rose by the thousands every day, countries struggled to keep pace with the rapidly increasing need for aid across the Indian Ocean Basin.
At the same time that U.S. aid was widely publicized domestically, our coinciding military motives were virtually ignored by the press. While supplying our aid (which when compared proportionately to that of other, less wealthy countries, was an insulting pittance), we simultaneously bolstered military alliances with regional powers in, and began expanding our bases throughout, the Indian Ocean region.
Long viewed as a highly strategic location for U.S. interests, our desire to curtail China’s burgeoning economic and military might is contingent upon our control of this area. In the months following the tsunami, writes Rahul Bedi in The Irish Times, the U.S. revived the Utapao military base in Thailand it had used during the Vietnam War. Task force 536 is to be moved there to establish a forward positioning site for the U.S. Air Force.
During subsequent tsunami relief operations, the U.S. reactivated its military co-operation agreements with Thailand and the Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines. U.S. Navy also vessels utilized facilities in Singapore, keeping with previous treaties. Further, the U.S. marines and the navy arrived in Sri Lanka to bolster relief measures despite the tsunami-hit island’s initial reluctance to permit their entry.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that U.S. relief to the tsunami-affected region would assist the war against terror and introduce “American values to the region.” The Bush Administration is also reviving its hopes of normalizing military ties with Indonesia, writes Jim Lobe for InterPress Service. The world’s most populous Muslim nation, its strategically located archipelago, critical sea lanes, and historic distrust of China have made it an ideal partner for containing Beijing.
Long before the tsunami struck, an article dated April 21, 2003, by Josy Joseph on Rediff.com explained that a classified report commissioned by the United States Department of Defense expresses a desire for access to Indian bases and military infrastructures. The United States Air Force specifically wants to establish bases in India. The report, entitled “Indo-U.S. Military Relations: Expectations and Perceptions,” was distributed amongst high-ranking U.S. officials and a handful of senior members within the Indian government. It continues on about the Defense Department’s desire to have “access closer to areas of instability.”1
The report says, “American military officers are candid in their plans to eventually seek access to Indian bases and military infrastructure. India’s strategic location in the centre of Asia, astride the frequently traveled Sea Lanes Of Communication (SLOC) linking the Middle East and East Asia, makes India particularly attractive to the U.S. military.”
The report also quotes U.S. Lieutenant Generals as saying that the access to Indian bases would enable the U.S. military “to be able to touch the rest of the world” and to “respond rapidly to regional crisis.” A South Asia Area Officer of the U.S. State Department has been quoted as saying, “India’s strategic importance increases if existing U.S. relationships with Asia fail.”
Apparently, the DPJ is buying this ploy completely. And it is hardly surprising that China might feel threatened by this kind of talk and strategic positioning. That said, tragedy has been the US’s ally before. Washington is famous for the notion of “never wanting a serious crisis go to waste“.
Rahm Emanuel (former Obama Chief of Staff) … said quote: You never want a serious crisis to go to waste, and what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you didn’t think you could do before.
Like resolve the problem in Okinawa quickly or integrate the US military into regional governments in Japan.
So pay attention to the spin from the US military. Given their 66-year stay in Japan one would think they might be happy and humble to finally provide some assistance to Japan instead of using it to extract even more from the naturally humble Japanese. Hopefully, the LDP gets it. The DPJ certainly doesn’t.