Okinawa, Japan – The Japanese military says it would like to have gone home sooner if it had known then how quickly things would unravel in the war-torn nation.
Japan had vowed to retake Okinawa in an all-out attack on the Japanese island, but the plan quickly unraveled when a U.S. invasion force left the island in the late 1950s.
Japan was left with an empty mainland and a military garrison that no longer existed.
The United States and Japan signed the peace treaty that ended World War II in 1972, but Japan has never formally withdrawn from the country.
The Japanese government announced on Tuesday it had decided to withdraw from the island, after President Donald Trump ordered the end of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the region in 2019.
Ahead of the announcement, Tokyo said it would use the “maximum force” to ensure the safety of Okinawans, who had long complained of harassment by Japanese forces.
It said the country had made preparations to protect Okinawa and would seek to maintain security there.
It did not provide details.
U.S.-Japan ties have frayed for years after a series of territorial disputes and disagreements over the nature of Japan’s claims in the East China Sea, where Japan maintains a naval base and military bases.
Trump’s decision to end the U,N.
mission in Okinawa came after the U to pull all troops out of the island.
It was not immediately clear how many troops the U will withdraw.
Trump said the U is withdrawing “for the sake of our children and grandchildren,” a comment that angered many Okinawas.
Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the U would withdraw its troops from Okinawa.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that U.K. military chief Michael Fallon said he believed the U-turn on Okinawa was a “misguided decision” made without regard for U. S. obligations under the 1951 Mutual Security Treaty.
“We are committed to a joint military operation with the United States to defeat the (Islamic State) terrorist group,” Fallon told reporters at a joint news conference with the U., Britain and Germany.
“I believe we have a responsibility to protect the security of Japan and our people,” Fallon added.
Japan, which has a population of more than 100 million, is one of Asia’s most militarized countries.
More than 200,000 Japanese are currently serving overseas, including nearly 70,000 serving in the U for training and exercises, the Defense Ministry reported in February.
Japan has also spent billions of dollars to help bolster its military after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 devastated its northeast coast.