Marine, Navy bases in Japan fight new coronavirus infections as cases surge in Tokyo

The Navy and Marine Corps in Japan moved Thursday to isolate and track coronavirus cases that have popped up on their installations on Okinawa and just outside Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the governor of Tokyo reported 224 new infections in the metro area Thursday, a surge that exceeded the previous high of 206 on April 17.

For a second time this week, an undisclosed number of people associated with the Marine Corps on Okinawa tested positive for the virus, adding to the number of cases there, according to a Thursday news release from Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

On Okinawa, the Marines on Thursday would not specify how many people tested positive, only that they fell under the status of forces agreement and were on installations that comprise the widespread Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler.

Major RAAF military exercise Pitch Black cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions

PITCH Black, the Royal Australian Air Force’s largest international air engagement exercise, has been shot down by COVID-19.

Australian Defence confirmed on Tuesday that the Territory military exercise will not be conducted this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

Pitch Black hosts up to 3500 personnel and up to 120 aircraft from around the globe including participants from Australia, Canada, France (New Caledonia), Germany, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and the United States.

Japan was to be participating for the first time in 2020.

The cancellation of Pitch Black follows on the back of the announcement that Australia’s largest army exercise for this year, Exercise Hamel, has been cancelled. 

Endangered dugong found dead in Okinawa, cause unknown:The Asahi Shimbun

An endangered dugong found dead here is believed to be one of only three that had been confirmed in waters around the northern part of this southern island.

The bureau is monitoring the mammals, designated by the central government as a protected species, whose habitat could be affected by land reclamation work for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago, both in Okinawa Prefecture.

Okinawa is said to be the northernmost limit of the habitat of dugongs.

Environmentalists have argued that the relocation project would destroy their critical habitat and called for a halt to the land reclamation work.

Japanese PM to make historic visit to Darwin 75 years after World War II bombings

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make a historic visit to Darwin this November to help cement modern day relations with Australia.

Shinzo Abe is scheduled to be welcomed to the Northern Territory by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in November, before both men fly to Port Moresby for the APEC meeting of regional leaders.

Japan's massive $34 billion INPEX gas pipeline project will be the focus of Mr Abe's visit, but closer military ties are also expected to be high on the agenda when the two leaders meet.

Mr Abe's is the first visit to Darwin by a Japanese leader since forces struck the key military port, killing more than 250 people across multiple bombings in 1942 and 1943.

Top end diplomatic tango: Japan and US compete for attention. In mid-November Australia's top end will be the stopover point for regional leaders straddling two major meetings, the East Asia Summit in Singapore and the APEC gathering in Port Moresby a few days later. The ABC can reveal that during the brief period between the two summits, United States Vice-President Mike Pence will stay in Cairns, at the same time that Mr Morrison hosts his Japanese counterpart in Darwin. Mr Pence, who met with Mr Turnbull during a visit to Sydney in 2017, is expected to fly into the APEC summit each day from northern Queensland rather than staying overnight in Port Moresby.

Military deal with Japan to counter China’s might

Japan’s military could conduct exercises out of Darwin under a historic defence agreement being negotiated by Malcolm Turnbull and Shinzo Abe, as part of a multi-pronged strategy to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.

The wide-ranging agreement, which will also allow military equipment and ammunition to be transported far more easily between the countries, will be progressed during the Prime Minister’s trip to Tokyo next week, as Australia faces a growing row with China over government criticism of Beijing’s Pacific aid.

Mr Turnbull will arrive in Tokyo on Thursday to meet the Japanese Prime Minister, who has been keen to amend his country’s post-World War II constitution to give the military a more legitimate role on the world stage. The trip follows Mr Abe’s visit to Australia last year.

Australia and Japan have championed building up regional alliances — such as the revived Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between Japan, India, the USA and Australia — in the face of China’s increasing dominance in the ­region.

Mr Turnbull has said he and Mr Abe will discuss a new visiting forces agreement, a type of ­arrangement that Japan has with one other country — the USA.

Australian Strategic Policy ­Institute head Peter Jennings said he expected the deal would allow for Japanese forces to conduct ­exercises in Australia.

"I’d expect there’d be an ­opportunity for more army ­engagement, including, ironically enough, perhaps out at Darwin, maybe doing trilateral activities with the US marines there.”

the deal is expected to be signed this year, paving the way for the Japanese Self-Defence Force troops to train in Australia.