By Buddy Blouin

The first Okinawa military base was a small airfield called Naka Hikojo, or Yara Hikojo. Just outside of Kadena, its purpose was to help with the eventual invasion of Japan’s mainland by U.S. troops. Following the events of WWII, maintaining a presence in Japan became beneficial for many reasons, including rebuilding, monitoring Japan, and containing the growth of communism. Since that time, there have been many military bases in Okinawa that have similar, yet different, purposes as Japan has grown to be America’s closest ally in Asia.

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How Many US Military Bases Are in Okinawa?

There are 24 Okinawa military bases with a total of 32 U.S. military facilities in the region. Here is each Okinawa military base helping maintain peace in the area and defending the interests of America and its allies:

  1. Awase Communication Station
  2. Camp Courtney
  3. Camp Hansen
  4. Camp Kuwae
  5. Camp Schwab
  6. Camp Shields
  7. Camp Zukeran
  8. Futenma Air Station
  9. Ginbaru Training Area
  10. Ie Jima
  11. Kadena Air Base
  12. Kadena Ammunition Storage Area
  13. Kin Blue Beach Training Area
  14. Kin Red Beach Training Area
  15. Makiminato Service Area
  16. Naha Port
  17. Northern Training Area
  18. Senaha Communication Station
  19. Sobe Communication Site
  20. Tengan Pier
  21. Torii Communication Station
  22. Tsuken Jima Training Area
  23. White Beach Area
  24. Yomitan Auxillary Airfield

Though some are newer than others, each Okinawa, Japan military base holds a key to the past, present, and future of America’s involvement in Asia.

This is evident not only in the actions that took place during WWII but also in complicated ties to the Korean War as well as increasing pressures from China to expand its influence in the Pacific.

Camp Foster Okinawa Evacuation Due to WWII Explosive

Camp Foster is an important facility found in the Okinawa Prefecture that continues to find a tie to the past while serving the present and future.

Home to the headquarters of Marine Corps Base Butler, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, and the Okinawa Area Field Office of United States Forces Japan, Camp Foster is a notable location for modern operations.

Back in October 2013, the Okinawa military base welcomed Japanese officials to look for various items of cultural significance believed to be on the property.

Dozens of metal drums were found but sadly were not properly reported for months, until March 2014. Fast forward a decade later and a much more explosive find has been discovered.

Marines are evacuating Camp Foster on March 7, 2024, so that Japanese troops can properly dispose of a WWII ordinance found near a construction site.

The 5-inch naval shell is on land given back to Japan, as was the case in 2015, where old housing for Marines once was.

Camp Foster’s Gate 5, the gate for the commissary, will close beginning at 8:30 am and should last until 1:00 pm, though the job should take around two hours.

Evacuation for facilities on the south side of Camp Foster must be from 6:00 am that morning until notified of an “all clear” by officials.

Officials also spoke about the need for those who do not live on the Okinawa military base but are near to shelter-in-place until given an “all clear” while also avoiding doors and windows beginning at 9:30 am.

Safety measures are in place by the Japanese troops removing the explosive to protect from damage outside of 82 feet, but due to an abundance of caution, an evacuation is being issued.

The Evolving Need for an Okinawa Military Base

While the spread of the Soviet Union isn’t a threat anymore, similar aggressions persist.

Japan is now a close ally and the United States maintains strong ties in part because of our agreement to protect the nation from regional threats, like North Korea and China.

In accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Japan doesn’t have nuclear weapons. Again, in part because of America’s backing.

But this is an important notion as it helps spread the creation and control of nuclear devices. Without American bases in Okinawa, it’s unlikely Japan wouldn’t develop its own nuclear program to defend itself from strikes.

Furthermore, China’s aggressive stances that are against Japan and many other nations’ interests highlight the alliance between the two nations even further.

Each Okinawa military base has its own function. Together, they all help limit the threat of aggression in the Pacific as well as potential nuclear war that could affect the entire world.

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