Australian troops not welcome in Japan, says Okinawa governor

The governor of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa says Australian Defence Force personnel are not welcome on the 150 islands he administers, as fears grow that rising tensions between China and US allies will lead to conflict in the region.

Denny Tamaki, the top official in the region who is up for re-election this year, said in an interview that he was worried the existing concentration of US forces had already made the islands a target for hostile forces.

He said the Okinawan people did not support Australian or other foreign defence personnel holding joint military exercises in Okinawa. Australia and Japan signed a defence deal in January that will open the way for their forces to step up training and host each other’s military.

“As the governor here, I would say that many people in Okinawa would oppose having Australian Defence Forces being stationed here, even temporarily, or to use a base in Okinawa where 70 per cent of the US forces in Japan have already been concentrated.”