CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan -- Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the commanding general for III Marine Expeditionary Force and Okinawa Area Coordinator, along with Mr. Joel Ehrendreich, the Consul General for the U.S. Consulate, Naha, spoke with 18 Okinawan and mainland Japan media representatives on March 8, 2017, at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.
The reporters asked several questions including the purpose and reach of the new Okinawa Orientation Overview brief given to all newcomers, the actions taken to advance the U.S. and Japanese alliance, and flight policies set in place for U.S. military aircraft operating in and around Okinawa.
One of the first questions asked was if the presence of the U.S. military will be sustainable without the support of the Okinawans.
“We are best when we are training together,” said Nicholson. “We are out there doing what we have to do to protect this alliance.”
Nicholson also encouraged the reporters to express their opinions and thoughts on what the U.S. military was doing to progress the Japan and U.S. alliance. Nicholson expressed a desire to have the reporters share their thoughts and concerns over several ongoing issues routinely reported by the local press.
“It is my personal opinion, that we are good… but we could be better if we are closely working together to improve the U.S and Japanese position,” said Nicholson. “It is also my opinion we should have integrated military bases on Okinawa as on mainland Japan… we should fly our Ospreys together, sail our ships together and have our soldiers and Marines training together more often to achieve that.”
Ehrendreich stated it is essential to address these topics because we need to be responsive to the concerns of the Okinawans, as well as inform them of what we are doing to put those concerns to rest.
It is not only important that we have our forces training together, Ehrendreich stated. It is important that the young service members continue to build a good relationship with the Okinawan community.
“There are positive interactions taking place every day,” said Ehrendreich. “Having service members on the island has furthered the study of science in Okinawan schools, created business match making events and women’s empowerment programs. This all helps build on the foundation of friendship between our people.”
Okinawans, service members and their families all have an impact on the relationship between Japan and the U.S. By continuing to work together and respecting the island, the American and Japan alliance will only grow stronger.