There are 32 U.S. military bases located on Okinawa. These bases occupy approximately 25% of the island’s area. The bases primarily exist to serve Japanese and U.S. strategic interests, but are unpopular with many local residents.
In 2012, an agreement was struck between the United States and Japan to reduce the number of U.S. military personnel on the island, moving 9,000 personnel to other locations and moving bases out of heavily populated Greater Naha, but 10,000 marines will remain on the island, along with other U.S. military units.
The United States Seventh Fleet is based in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force (3 MEF) is based in Okinawa. 130 USAF fighters are stationed in the Misawa Air Base and Kadena Air Base.
There are also Japanese military bases on the island. Some of the local Okinawans also view Japanese as colonizers.
My bellicose opinion is essentially that the local Okinawans don’t matter. I could care less what they want, their personal or collective aspirations. But that’s just me. Our business is more with the Japanese government (which wants US troops there) and which runs Okinawa. Should the US leave, it needs to destroy all of the infrastructure that it put into place (metaphorically sewing the ground with salt).
The Japanese are concerned about China’s moves to annex huge segments of the Pacific Ocean, which have been ruled illegal by the UN. They encourage more US participation in their defense and they pay for a huge segment of US participation (often unacknowledged in the press).
Okinawa is a useful staging area for us moves in Asia (North Korea, Taiwan, supporting our allies in SE Asia, etc. So long as the Japanese want us there, I think that we should remain. It’s their territory. When we leave one day, we scorch the earth behind us. Something that the Okinawans should consider is that a Chinese master would not be preferable to a Japanese master. And no matter what, the island is strategic and SOMEBODY other than locals will ultimately call the shots.