The headquarters of I Corps, a U.S. Army command that in the event of land conflict in East Asia would be in charge of the defense of U.S. allies in the region, is being moved from Washington State to Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture. The shift is an indication of a U.S. commitment to its allies. As such it is probably not reversible.
U.S. jet fighters based in Misawa and Kadena and the heavy lift wing of Yokota also probably fulfill vital roles in bolstering the capabilities and credibility of the Japan-U.S. security alliance.
So what was Democratic Party Leader Ozawa Ichirō thinking when he told an audience in Nara Prefecture last night that the only branch of the U.S. armed services that needs to be in Japan is the U.S. Seventh Fleet? Arguing that the revolution in military affairs and force realignment have made the presence of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army (and the U.S. Marines - them too?) unnecessary seems not only wrong, but wrong in a way that makes googoo eyes at the People's Liberation Army.
Perhaps it is an example of Ozawa's thinking about long game, looking ahead to the day when the Chinese government has to select a target upon which the PLA can work out its frustrations. Japan would be able to say, "Not us, we reduced the U.S. presence that you found so threatening. We're the good guys, see?"
Or perhaps he believes that if the U.S. presence is lessened, the Chinese will stop trying to build up their power projection capabilities aimed at Japan.
Because the excuse Ozawa gives -- that getting rid of the non-Navy U.S. forces on the ground and in the air would compel Japan to provide for more of its security needs by itself, making Japan a more equal partner in the alliance -- seems nuts. It is akin to arguing that because swimming is a very valuable skill for individuals to have, we should be tossing babies off of piers.