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Can anyone suggest a solution to the U.S. bases issue in Okinawa?

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Yes, implement the accord that took over 15 years and untold hours of negotiation to finalize and was subsequently ratified and signed by both governments......

Imagine what Japan would do if the US suddenly decided to renege on one of it's pledge bilateral agreements - can you imagine the sense of victimhood, lack of fair play and loss of mutual trust we'd be hearing in the media?

The 2005 Alliance Transformation Agreements were good in the sense that both sides had to significantly compromise and give up quite a bit to reach a consensus. Open it back up again and things will start back at square one - and nothing will be solved for another 15 years........

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^^agreed. Politically, Japan must continue with the agreement made which technically, they haven't stopped moving forward on, they just mentioned doing so.

With that said, I do beleive Japan needs to take another look at what their needs are for security and how they could be met realistically, then JAPAN has to bring their requested number of US personnel in JP down and do away with the need for a helicopter support function in Okinawa by the US. Only then can they justify the complete removal of the USMC helicopter force in Okinawa.

Either way, once things are under way, the long term plan is pretty clear on "cleaning up" the base issue in Okinawa. Once Futenma can finally close, and once the new Hospital is completed on Camp Foster, they can then close Camp Lester, Camp Kinser, and so forth. That is already in the current plan and awaiting to be impleminted. I would also like to see the closure of Camp Courtney by moving the HQ for III MEF onto Camp Foster. This would leave the only working large US bases in Okinawa as Kadena, Foster, Schwabb, Ie shima, and Torii. In a perfect world, I would like to see the complete Marine function on Okinawa go away. There really is no need in this day and age when the Air Force can get them to the battle in such a short time. Leave only the Air Force and the Army (to maintain the Patriot defense system), even then, once Japan gets their Patriot system up and running, the US Army can leave as well.

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If taking the base off Okinawa is not an option, then a realistic option I see is by compensating people living near to the base. I might be wrong, but one of the biggest problem I hear with the bases are that they are too close to residential area. A way to quarrel down the resentment is by maybe pay money to people living near the base. I don't live in Okinawa so I will never be able to understand what they are going through. But if I was paid like 1 mil a yen for living there, maybe I will suck it up and live there even with the noise. Or maybe a tax exemption might sound more probable. I don't know...this is just a thought.

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How about asking China to build a base on one of the disputed southern islands, and Russia to build one on one of the northern ones?

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Kill 2 birds with one stone - move the base to Takeshima.

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Send US Forces home and let Japan assume the role of protecting itself.

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Okinawa's independence from Japan.

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the funny thing is if the US went up & pulled the plug on this agreement Jpn wud freak out! damned if you do damned if you dont

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oh & I have the perfect solution to ALL of this but I aint talkin as its kinda fun in a sadistic way to watch the US & Jpn piss away another 15yrs & come up with ZIP!!!

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Remove the base. The war is over.

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What about letting the Okinawans (as opposed to the mainland Japanese) make their own decisions regarding such issues. In other words, what about independence for Okinawa from the tyranny of Tokyo.

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How about doing absolutely nothing.

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1- Let them go home. War is over and the base serves no realistic purpose. 2- Buy fighting toys and distribute it between the politicians involved.

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ronaldk: I agree with you. Nothing will happen quickly. It will be years and years before change happens. People need drama in their lives, this situation might as well be it for the Okinawans.

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The more things change, the more things tend to stay the same.

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Most of the US bases in Germany got shut down. I don't see why they don't do the same in Japan. Use those on the bases now to fight in Afghanistan.

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Lincolnman - well said. I personally have no opinion about where the base is. My problem is that it was a legal agreement, which as you said was completed and ratified between two countries over a number of years. Not two individuals or two political parties. Two countries. Changing political parties in japan does not make it legal to decide to change a legal and binding agreement such as this one. The United States did not make this agreement with Aso, Fukuda, Abe (etc) or Hatayama. Nor was it made with the LDP or JDP. It was an agreement made between two countries. One person or one party cannot reneg just because they don't like the agreement.

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Foxie, they DO use the people on the bases in japan to fight in Afghanistan. Secondly, Germany situation is entirely different. The JAPANESE Government WANTS the US Military to remain in Japan. They pay for certain things to make that happen. The US also enjoys having a jump off point for the Pacific and the bases maintain stability in the region, especially in shipping and deterring North Korea. You can learn this very basic knowledge in 5min of Google.

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As far as an legal agreement. The Americans have never honoured a n agreement they signed. look a history. Bush tore up an agreement they had with the Russians on nuclear because he didn't like it. The same with chemical weapons in Vietnam. They used them and said they didn't sign the agreement. I feel the War has been over 64 years and JAPAN has honoured all there AGREEMENTS. Japans self defence force can defend the country without any ones help; The american now want our people to do their fighting. It is now time they leave us alone. besides the american dollar is worth nothing there is nothing backing it it is only printed paper.Signed SEA BIRD

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13akio13 at 02:52 PM JST - 18th November Japans self defence force can defend the country without any ones help

No it can't, and Japanese Government doesn't think so either, which is why they pay for and continue to ask the US for help.

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Send them home. Its safe to say they are no longer needed. The Japanese seem ready to protect themselves. Lets see what happens next.

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Colonialism doesn't work -reduce the US troops in Japan by 2-5% every year until they are gone.

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whatsgoinon at 01:52 PM JST - 18th November - Changing political parties in japan does not make it legal to decide to change a legal and binding agreement such as this one.

Actually, in international law there is the concept of an "odious debt", whereby a new regime refuses to pay debts incurred by previous (usually oppressive) regime. The US must deal with the fact that the Japanese people have chosen a different path from 50-odd years of LDP rule, and that the old certainties of the alliance are no longer valid.

The DPJ tore up the agreement for the Yamba Dam when they came to power - judging it a colossal piece of LDP-pork and therefore not in Japan's best interests - so why not apply the same critical eye to the LDP's agreement on US bases?

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A 'legal agreement' implies that it is reached on a comprehensible and legal base and that it doesn't violate the expressed will of a majority of the people concerned.

This is not the case with the base relocation agreement.

It violates the expressed will of Nago citizens, as well as that of the clear majority of the Okinawan citizens, and it was reached by pressure, cheating, bribery, false promises and even lies.

Everybody who studied the process knows that there were a number of hidden interests involved, on the Japanese as well as on the US side, that if spoken out honestly would be more then rude towards the Okinawan people.

To put it with clear words: the agreement is a 'political' rape of the will of the Okinawan people.

Just because it is an agreement between two countries doesn't prove it's righteous and that doesn't mean it is not possible to review it after a cardinal change in the political landscape. To deny that would mean to deny human reason just in order to keep a shallow form.

A solution? Simply to employ human intelligence and creativity in order to work out a way to close down Futenma without putting new burden on Okinawans and without further destroying the Okinawan environment.

If there is a clear and honest task there will surely be an appropriate solution that doesn't violate the will of the Okinawan people. I'm not an expert on military logistics, but I know well what human creativity is able to achieve and if there's not enough intelligence and creativity in the US military to solve such a 'small problem' (in perspective to what kind of awkward problems are solved on a daily base in Afghanistan, Iraq etc.) without extending the roughly 20% of Okinawan main island area already occupied by the US please search the help of competent people!

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Pull the US bases off and let Japan fend for herself.

This would probably mean the introduction of something like conscription, which wouldn't be altogether bad when you look at how effeminate many young Japanese males are.

But if this course is chosen there will be howls of indignation and screeching about 'resurgent militarism.' And, as with the 'crisis' of the moment, most of the blame will be conveniently placed on Japan's only ally, or at any rate, on the only ally Japan has which is able to project any real power.

Regardless of whatever outcome we see in the next two years or two decades, the one constant will be Eikaiwa teachers reassuring anyone who'll listen, "I told you so."

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Pull the US bases off and let Japan fend for herself.

This would probably mean the introduction of something like conscription, which wouldn't be altogether bad when you look at how effeminate many young Japanese males are.

That would be a pretty dangerous option: I can't see any foreigners wanting to live in a militarised Japan! They tried to do that about 60 years ago...look at the results!

The Americans have a reason to have their bases here for the moment, just as they have big bases in Germany, Australia, Korea, the UK....etc etc. They should just ensure they recruit, manage and educate the staff better than at present.

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realistically relocation is probably not in Japans best interest list.

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Distribute the bases more evenly throughout Japan.

The reason Okinawa is burdened with such a high percentage of bases to population / land mass is because it was under US administration from 1945 to 1972 by which point most of the bases had been established. The second part of the reason is the "main-islanders" have been happy to have them elsewhere...

Sure the logistics will be something of a problem, but it could also be a good chance to streamline and make cuts in the sheer volume.

As for Japan being ready to defend itself, I can't imagine where some of you come up with this... I have many JMSDF friends and even they laugh at the idea. Something to work for? No doubt. "Ready", no way!

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Kick out the USA and invite Canada to come protect this great nation.

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Better still: Denmark!!

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Simple. They all need to be closed. Even with Japan helping to pay for them, the defense budget is bankrupting the U.S. All our overseas bases need to be closed and the defense budget needs to be reduced by about 50%. Even with such a dramatic cut, we'd still have the greatest per capita spending and the most advanced military in the world.

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Build more bases.

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It's simple. Leave for Guam, and do not come to Japan's rescue the first time. Everybody wins.

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The Amercian bases in Okinawa are of strategic importance. The point is that Okinawa is situated in close vicinity of the Korean Peninsula and China. As it appears, much time will pass before a radical solution to the issue concerning the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Okinawa is found.

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The solution is easy. Just stop catering to Japan's whimpy whims and just do it. If the Okinawans don't like it they can move.

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i say puill out the troops and see what the japanese do either way both america and japan have a win and a loss just that all 3 of japanese losses are for the best future of the country korea china economical problems for Okinawa

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Yeah. Simple. All the US military should close up shop and go back to the good ol US of A and let Japan come to understand what their presence there really prevented because no doubt the minute they leave the land of the rising son the tensions between China, North Korea and Japan will begin to fester and the Japanese will be looking over their shoulder wondering if the good ol US of A will come back to help them out just like the little dog at the door barking away madly who knows their mummy will be there to protect them if something happens.

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One of the key problems is going to be economical. I dont see how that would be fixed. Maybe yall have welfare like the US. Which if i do say is just a dumb idea why would you pay people not to work?

Another is Jobs. And do you really want to lose all those jobs in this time?

Jeffrey,

I have heard people talk about how we over spend on our defense budget again and again. Its simply not true. Not if you accually want to be able to decide for yourself how you want to run your own country.

The biggest part of our budget is personel. We pay good wages have good healthcare etc. This cost alot of money infact most world militaries could be paided just from our personel cost (listening gov. healthcare people?). Another is that we have defense obligations for our allies around the world. Name the last big naval engagement between countries...now dont include the US. See everyone knows if we side with a country at sea and there not it they lose.

Maybe redistribute the bases maybe just get the personel to straighten up and act right.

I for one hope Japan will again become a real naval power. Which being a island she desperatly needs.

One of the things about todays militaries. All the guns and ships in the world dont mean anything if you cant get them anywhere the US is pretty much the only one able to.

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Okinawa should declare itself part of America, then the problem is solved. They couild chalk it all up to the global warmening, couldn't they. No one thought of that, did they? No, only me.

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Um Okinawa was part of America as a special administrative district, for 27 years. In any case, the further we are from North Korea the less likely they have any leverage against us. Their only means of threatening us is that they'll attack our friends, and the day that gets taken seriously is the day Japan and South Korea reveal their nukes.

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Like anything else ,if you make living around the base is a privilege, NOT a disadvantage then people won't complain, at all!

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Move forward with the plans to relocate as many as 8,000 Marines and their dependents to Guam.

This will greatly lessen the burden of hosting so many U.S. forces on the small island of Okinawa.

With the Senkaku Islands issue and other concerns in the East China Sea, the Takeshima/Dokdo problem, and constitutional limitations on Japan's Self-Defense Forces, there is no way a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Okinawa will happen for many years to come.

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The military bases here in Okinawa are the only thing that is keeping the Okinawan economy alive. There is NOTHING here. There are not any huge manufacturing plants, no jobs, no parking, basically nothing to draw in tourists. What you don't understand until you live here is that the people that protest the bases are not Okinawan. 99% of them come here from the mainland. Out of the people that come here most are paid by the event company that sets up the 'protests'. It is totally a case of a small group of idiots trying to force their opinion on to the Okinawan people.

Next, if you pulled out all the bases the economy in Okinawa would die. There are thousands of locals that work either on base or in an industry that is supporting the base. You can not simply put all those people out of work.

Okinawa also is NOT internationally minded. Most hotels do not have English speaking staff. Nearly all resturants do not have English speaking staff. There are not very many things here for tourists to do. You can dive, or go to the aquarium, or visit some war memorials. That is about it. There is no big drawing attraction here like a casino or theme park. There is also no good shopping. People that come here are not motivated to spend a lot of money when they arrive. That's the facts.

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There are not very many things here for tourists to do. You can dive

That's enough for me.

There is no big drawing attraction here like a casino or theme park.

Those would be put-offs, not attractions. Especially if the theme park was shaken to its foundations every five minutes by the jets flying overhead.

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@Helly, interesting insight!

I spent the past New Year holiday driving my in-laws all over the island. It was my first time back since I did the same thing with my (cough) previous in-laws 20 years ago. Compared to back then it looked like a ghost town as far as US service personnel were concerned. I only saw a few during my 4 day stay (sure, the holiday had something to do with that).

The bases also seemed somewhat deserted, driving past the long chain link fences.

Every Okinawan I spoke with was considerably more friendly than the average folk up here in the Chugoku area. Oh, and yes, I'm a white boy from the States.

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If what Helly said is true then the Okinawans should organize a huge demonstration to support the base. Problem solved!

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And you live here Cleo, so you understand the problem?

Helly: You are partially correct. There is a pretty good business to be had for construction (all military construction are done with Japanese or Okinawan companies), and the service industry (hotels, restaurants, shopping, etc...). There isn't, however, any industry or manufacturing base of any kind.

Local products include glass, pineapple, some textiles, but no real heavy items (cars, TV's, appliances). Those are jobs that sustain and endure. The big companies in mainland do not invest here, so of course the people here look to the bases for jobs. That is the ultimate one (over 1000 applicants for every job), where the benefits are good, and they do not just "make tea" for the Oyaji boss. I digress.

The bases have both a geo-political benefit AND monetary one. If Okinawa wants to grow, they should remove the North Korean owned pachinko parlors and give larger companies a tax incentive to come down here. If Japan gives up on their security alliance, then the bases should leave. Then the locals will have all the time in the world to figure out what flavor of cement will pave over the grass.

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Yep. Move out and let China figure out what to do. Why stay somewhere that you're not wanted? If the economy on Okinawa does suffer at least they won't have to put up with all that noise and disruption any more. Japan always considered Okinawa a backwater anyway. May as well go back to being one!

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Yeah, kick the royals out of the Imperial Palace, and move Ginowan there. There's more than enough room there, though being in the middle of Tokyo, it'd be noisier than being around Futenma.

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Helly, your comment mainly shows us one point: a very limited understanding of the situation in Okinawa and, correct me if I'm wrong, a very limited understanding of Japanese.

Is the kind of self-rightous (Helly, hope you're not christian... ;) small talk that plumbs ones ears at on-base BBQ's. The one argument that was left out by Helly was the 'we risk our lives to protect Okinawa and, instead of kissing our feet, they want to kick us out' stuff.

The military bases here in Okinawa are the only thing that is keeping the Okinawan economy alive.

This was kind of true in the 50ies and 60ies of the past century, but this role is now played by tourism. I'm not really into statistics, but I read that the money coming from tourist is somewhere close to 40,000,000,000 YEN or 450,000,000 US$. That's what most Okinawans really talk and worry about. Especially after 9/11 and when the US attacked Iraq, and the main Island tourism declined rapidly and massively because of the Japanese tourists fear of an ATTACK ON THE US BASES IN OKINAWA. Get the point, Helly?

To be realistic one has to count a part of the public spending on big development projects (that sees a higher share in Okinawa then in other peripheral prefectures) are to keep Okinawans wealthy and saturated enough to not riot against the bases. Even though such projects do keep the economy afloat, many Okinawans I talk to complain that they hook Okinawan's and diminish their ability to economize by their own means.

Since most of the shopping by military personal is done on-base (at PX etc.) nowadays there only very limited number of shops to serve the base crowd, even in the areas surrounding the bases. And since 9/11 also a lot of the leisure-time is also spent on-base. Just look at the towns surrounding the big US bases like Okinawa-city, Kadena, Futenma, their mostly in disastrous economic state with more shop vacancies then in the towns away fro the bases like Naha. If one goes to Naha, the Okinawan capital where a 1/4 of the Okinawan's live and which is also the unrivaled business capital, one will hardly find any shop or business that caters mainly US military.

As there's few english in the menus US military doesn't go there very often I suppose.

Okinawa also is NOT internationally minded. Most hotels do not have English speaking staff. Nearly all resturants do not have English speaking staff.

Is the only statement that bears truth (come on Helly, if you're living in Okinawa and if thats a problem for you, learn enough Japanese to at least understand a menu and order a dish), but even this is partly related to the US bases and the growing Okinawan dependence on the above mentioned public works money from Tokyo and the more and more passive attitude stemming from that.

There are not very many things here for tourists to do. You can dive, or go to the aquarium, or visit some war memorials. That is about it.

So, please tell me Helly, for what are the nearly 5,000,000 mainly Japanese tourists coming here?

What I really appreciate with Okinawan's is the kindness and big-heartedness they show towards foreingers, including the US military personal. In a similar situation in a european or islamic country (so much US bases crowded on such a small island) you would have the locals spitting at US military and probably a competition amongst regional terror groups for who's going to blow-up the bases first...

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the_sicilian -

Helly was talking about attracting tourists. I gave my opinion as a tourist who is very attracted to Okinawa. Along with, if bam_boo's figures are correct, 5 million others.

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Helly

I find it hard to believe that those protests are staged. Where did you here that one from?!

Also, maybe they don't have many English-speaking staff exactly because they don't want to encourage off-duty military people to visit their establishments. Who can blame them?

The solution is for the U.S. to pull out in stages (not only in Okinawa but also Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and any other large bases around the world). If they really feel the need to be a presence in the area then the Guam option seems to make sense. It's part of the U.S. for all intents and purposes. I don't believe that China or North Korea would ever attack if unprovoked and I don't think Japan would provoke them militarily. Unfortunately, the propaganda machine is designed to make us think otherwise.

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Ah so Cleo. Sorry for jumping on you. I misunderstood.

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**I don't believe that China or North Korea would ever attack if unprovoked and I don't think Japan would provoke them militarily

Do you really believe that either of those countries would sit still for a remilitarized Japan? Do you understand the depth of hatred that no amount of proposed East Asian brotherhood is going to change? Just look at what happened when one of Hatoyama's predessors visited Yasukuni.

The only thing that has kept the world relatively peaceful in the last 6 decades is the presence of US bases in countries around the world.

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Knews Too bad you think that Okinawans don't want us on this island. Since arriving in July, I have bought furniture, drank at least 100 cups of coffee from the Starbucks in the American Village, eaten at restaurants, shopped at Jusco, bought two used cars, taken a cat to the local Vet, bought flowers from across the street. Live in an off-base house that the average Okinawan couldn't afford. Would I visit Okinawa if I hadn't been ordered here. No! I prefer Europe, which I have been to twice.

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Four years ago, I had been thinking American base in Okinawa should be removed. But now my idea about it changed. Its base is important for a lot of Okinawan people, because of many reasons. People working in American base need its base to earn money. They also can get money because they lend American base their lands. It gives Okinawa some profits. I’m living in Okinawa and I’m majoring in English at my university, so I may need its base to work there. Certainly, American culture gives us activation for Okinawa and serves as a stimulus for our life.

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