politics

U.S. base dispute worsens as Tokyo refuses to bend

50 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2015 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

50 Comments
Login to comment

inakamons don't even come close to the area. Never saw the area, yet protesting. Chinooks and their allies.

-4 ( +14 / -18 )

The protesters do not represent the majority on Okinawa. They are paid to attend these demonstrations ¥3,000 to ¥10,000 and transported using rented bus by OPG. Many are from the mainland and are not residents of the area. The media controls all radio, tv and newspapers.

-5 ( +19 / -24 )

True Okinawa,

It's about time this lie about Okinawans being paid to attend demonstrations was put to rest.

There were nearly 4,000 people at the event. Who do you imagine forked out between 12,000,000 yen and 40,000,000 yen for the demonstrators?

NO ONE subsidises these demonstrations. I personally know of at least two separate people who PAID for taxis to get to an event at Henoko last year OUT OF THEIR OWN POCKET because all the buses were full.

We usually attend these demonstrations so I know the situation there. There are some sympathetic people from the mainland, but the vast majority are Uchinanchu (Okinawans). Don't forget that Onaga was elected BECAUSE of his anti-base stance and that the LDP did badly in the election because of its pro-base stance.

Okinawa does NOT want yet another base.

It is shouldering far too much of the burden.

6 ( +20 / -14 )

Want protection from China but don't want the base on their island. NIMBYism at its finest.

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

@shimosueyoshi

Want protection from China but don't want the base on their island. NIMBYism at its finest.

And China is going to attack Japan for.... right, all Japan's natural resources and because it wants to harm a major economic and trading partner. Makes sense!

Well, some people need any excuse to justify continued US imperialism, which includes occupation of Okinawa.

1 ( +16 / -15 )

Is that really Takeshi Onaga's hair? That's my big doubt.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Time to wake up and smell the Vasaline, Onaga.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Didn't Onaga a couple of months ago fly to Tokyo to talk directly to Abe about this issue but was rebuffed?

All I keep hearing by the big-wigs of the national government on the news is the necessity for "better understanding and communication on the issue."

Being the new governor of Okinawa with this very important issue should've been granted an audience with the Prime Minister.

I think this is a bit of a payback by the governor.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I like Onaga's stance. Damage them as much as you can from your position, and show them that people's voices must be heard... Hmm, people's voices, that's something new, in the "democratic" Japan...

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Secede! Secede! Secede!

Onaga got elected on the promise he could stand up to the US and Abe.

Abe made a promise to the US about relocation.

If Onaga means business, secede.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Even though the US military presence and bases on Okinawa virtually guarantee their safety, I can understand their concern as Okinawa now also becomes a prime military target in any conflict

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Bertiewooster said,

Okinawa does NOT want yet another base

First, Okinawa is not getting another base. The base that Okinawans had complained was in a populated area is being moved to a remote location.

Second, yes, Okinawa is being made to take most of the US military personnel and this is nothing new. Tokyo doesn't give a damn about Okinawa, it probably never did.

Civilians were made to stay on the island and dig military bunkers, serve as conscripts and the lot for the Imperial Army and Navy rather than having them evacuated from the island. As a result, it is possible that even more ordinary Okinawan civilians died than military personnel on either side during the desperate battle that followed, but nobody knows for sure. Their lives were, in the eyes of Tokyo, "sacrificed" so that mainlanders could live. A nasty, brutal truth.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

It seems tha Abe is so arrogant as to be unable to walk with Okinawan governor, though Abe insists he is always available to talk with South Korea and China.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@fxguy: Could be wig on his head. Do Japanese men dye their hair?

Abe should talk with him if he want to ask to relocation plan to be expedited By ignoring O Gobermor. O people will be against Central Govt further. Maybe Abe and LDP should rrefresh psychology?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The government's top spokesman Yoshihide Suga said that the Futenma air station, said to be the most dangerous in the world, must be closed and removed from the heavily populated residential area.

So is Onaga, who won the gubernatorial election on the platform of "Close Futenma and No Henoko Relocation," wrong? Never.

Suga's argument doesn't hold water because there's another air base on Okinawa whose accident rate far exceeds Futenma's. And that is Kadena Air Base. Kadena must be removed first and foremost, according to his logic.

The government's obstinate stance clearly shows how determined they are to sell Japan's sovereignty to the U.S. so that Japan may be the U.S.'s protectorate and vassal with Okinawa remaining its military colony forever. They should learn from Okinawa's cause and struggles.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

It's time Suga just had the cahones to say it flat out to the protesters: Futenma or Henoko. Which one? Until then, they should shut up and be thankful they are safe from China thanks to the US presence. They want the money from the government, but not the costs of getting it. Plain and simple. The government should also further cut funding to Okinawa and let the people know it is because of the illegalities of the Governor.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

"The order is invalid, significantly and clearly not legal," Suga said.

The Japanese government spent a long time trying to obtain the permission of the former governor to start reclamation work. At that time the Japanese government accepted the authority of the governor over whether the work could start, or not. Eventually, the former governor gave the go ahead (despite claiming he wouldn't when he was elected).

Now, slippery Suga seems to be saying that the governor has no authority at all and the Japanese government will ignore him. What has changed? If the governor's permission is not needed, why spend so long seeking it? Suga needs to give some clear answers instead of abusing those who disagree with the LDP.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Ok, I'm an idiot, so I want to be taught why secession isn't an option. Not in generalities but in specifics, why can't they put secession up for a vote?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Simply put harvey, secession isn't in the Japanese constitution. Also, regardless of any vote, secession must be enforced by force of action and will.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It seems that Onaga clearly said no military base for both Futenma and Henoko.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Scrote

The Japanese government spent a long time trying to obtain the permission of the former governor to start reclamation work. At that time the Japanese government accepted the authority of the governor over whether the work could start, or not. Eventually, the former governor gave the go ahead (despite claiming he wouldn't when he was elected).

Let me put it this way, Scrote. Even if we grant Okinawa the status of an independent country, when Okinawa agreed for the work to go ahead, we had the equivalent of an bilateral agreement. You can't break agreements just because the government changed, and Onega is now breaking it over absolutely friovolous and even false grounds. I think Suga is on solid ground on this one.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki: If you cannot break agreements just because governments change then why did the Central Govt. break the agreement they made with Nakaima by reducing the amount of money in the budget they promised him for signing the agreement just because the government in Okinawa changed?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

》reducing the amount of money in the budget they promised him for signing the agreement just because the government in Okinawa changed?

AFAIK, the cut was after this Onega, having been elected, started trying to kill the project. This "order" is just the latest of his stunts.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Hi, @david varnes,

"... secession isn't in the Japanese constitution"

According to Mr. Omori Seisuke, Director of the Cabinet Legislative Bureau, that's not quite true.

"One can argue that secession is not specifically, or by clear implication, prohibited by the Japanese Constitution. In fact, people constantly do many things that are not provided for in the constitution."

www.uchinanchu.org/uchinanchu/ryukyuanist/ryukyuanist76_77.pdf

And he goes on further to say:

"Philosophically, it is said that there are two types of theories of the right to secession. One type includes “primary right theories” grounded in the sanctity of basic human rights. Libertarian and democratic theories of secession must be in this category. The other type, comprising “remedial right theories,”justifies a group’s right to secede on grounds of large‐scale and persistent violations of its basic human rights by the state."

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@HarveyPoker Admittedly, the article does try a bit to pretend this is so, but even the most basic context analysis should have made you suspect that after the first answer "A" is not Omori. It is not quite explicitly mentioned, but it is probably that "Joyce Chinen".

In fact, people constantly do many things that are not provided for in the constitution.

There is a distinction that Professor Chinen is not noticing. People are not government. Under the idea of popular sovereignty, all power nominally belongs to the people, so they can do things even if they are not in the Constitution. The Constitution is not there to restrict their actions, but a means to officiate the transfer of certain powers to the government, so it is a dangerous position to allow them to do things not in the Constitution.

To be fair to Chinen, it was creative to exploit Article 95 of the Constitution, which does seem to allow for such a possibility. However, one would think if the Japanese as a whole (through the national Diet) are voting to "grant independence" to Okinawa, the word "Expunged" (from being such obstructionists) comes more to my mind than "Seceded" :-)

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki: The cuts were made right after Onaga took office and long before he took any action against the agreement. The LDP was mad because he beat their man Nakaima and cut the budget just because Onaga won on an anti-Henoko platform and refused to even talk to him and listen to his views.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@ smithinjapan MAR. 25, 2015 - 01:10PM JST

The government should also further cut funding to Okinawa and let the people know it is because of the illegalities of the Governor.

It was not Okinawans who asked for money in the first place. To use money as a tool to "comfort" and rule Okinawa is a frivolous Tokyo concept. While there are a number of sleazy Okinawan politicians who offer submission in return for money this is not the Okinawan way of thinking.

To endorse Tokyo's carrot and stick policy is cynical and anti-democratic.

@ Kazuaki Shimazaki MAR. 25, 2015 - 03:52PM JST

You can't break agreements just because the government changed, and Onega is now breaking it over absolutely friovolous and even false grounds. I think Suga is on solid ground on this one.

You are wrong Kazuaki Shimazaki. Okinawa still is not an independent nation so there is no bilateral agreement and to be clear there is not even one agreement between the people of Okinawa and Tokyo about the US bases in Okinawa.

Please note that Okinawans never had the chance to negotiate the US military presence on their island directly in a democratic process. Okinawans have always been very clear about their wish to reduce or even shed US military on their islands, just that their wishes were constantly ignored by Tokyo.

All decisions about US military on Okinawa were negotiated in back room consultations between Tokyo and the US and Okinawans were just presented results and offered Hobson's choice: either you agree or you suffer. They were even cheated on by Tokyo in the late 1960ies early 1970ies when it was decided in secret negotiations with the US without consulting Okinawans that they had to carry the overwhelming burden of US military bases for an indefinite period. Not the comportment of a democratic nation towards its regions.

Besides what former governor Nakaima did was illegal as it was a betrayal of the voters mandate, who only voted for him because he clearly stated that he would not support the construction of a new military facility in Henoko. So it is the democratic right of Okinawan people to correct such decisions.

At present I don't think that a majority of Okinawans supports secession, but if things go on like this it could be their only choice if they want to regain their dignity and freedom.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Abe cannot bend to Onaga because he already has to bend over for the Americans. Alliance means doing Japan's share, and if Japan can do so by mostly sacrificing a bunch of people that most main island Japanese regard as not quite Japanese it is all so much easier. Shame on you Abe Shinzo.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I lived in Okinawa for several years. Kadena has a good safety record so I'm not sure where the one individuals information is from. Perhaps Futenma should be closed altogether rather than be relocated however realistically no one wants American marines in their backyard. I know some elderly mainlanders and maybe not so elderly, feel that Okinawans are not really Japanese. This attitude doesn't help the base situation. To be honest the loss of the Marines wouldn't have a major economic impact however the closure of Kadena AB would most definitely. I have no solution to this situation that is viable or that anyone would listen to except perhaps to remove the Marines to the mainland or perhaps somewhere in the Marianas.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Since it seems the option to not have the base is off the table, given the choice that's available now and actually attainable, which would be preferable: the status quo or the new location?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You are wrong Kazuaki Shimazaki. Okinawa still is not an independent nation so there is no bilateral agreement and to be clear there is not even one agreement between the people of Okinawa and Tokyo about the US bases in Okinawa.

I said "even if" in my original phrase - I know Okinawa is not independent. Which only makes their position weaker.

[quote]Besides what former governor Nakaima did was illegal as it was a betrayal of the voters mandate, who only voted for him because he clearly stated that he would not support the construction of a new military facility in Henoko. So it is the democratic right of Okinawan people to correct such decisions.[/quote]

Not quite illegal. He was entrusted by the voters. But there are days when the governor can't follow his mandate, especially since as you say Okinawa's not even independent.

Here are the facts of life: 1) Most people don't really want bases too close to their homes. 2) Okinawa is in a prime geopolitical location.

If we take a land analogy, Okinawa is the border or close to it, with Naha being that relatively large city close to the border that can help sustain a military presence. What the Okinawans are saying is "Don't put military defenses on a border just because it is close to our homes". Does that make sense to you? Is this a sustainable idea?

All Nakaima or anyone else can do is to try and cut the best possible deal for the Okinawans, to squeeze the last yen Tokyo is willing to hand out for the inconvenience. Onega's failure is an inability to understand this basic fact.

Overall, my view is that Tokyo has been remarkably tolerant and willing to honor its agreements with the Okinawans, and if you don't believe me, you can look at that very nice airport in Shimojijima. With the extremely limited population, that airport is plainly underutilized and being able to use it as a kind of forward base would be extremely convenient. They don't do that because in the 70s they signed an agreement.

So, I see Tokyo honoring its agreements through multiple government changes and massive alterations in the strategic environment. This Onega can't do it despite being an immediate successor.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I'm with Onaga on this one

0 ( +2 / -2 )

People often argue problems on different planes as well as on different premises. As a result, conflicts in opinion occur quite often.

As for the Futenma issue, the government side says Henoko is the best and the only choice because it contributes to the reduction of Okinawa's burden while maintaining deterrence. Okinawa, on the other hand, doesn't see the problem that way. We ask why Okinawa must host so many U.S. bases as may be dubbed as occupation.

To say it's because Okinawa is strategically well located is like saying 19th-century imperial powers had right to occupy unexplored regions and countries in the world for their rich natural resources. That's the thing of the past when the law of the jungle dominated the world.

Of the four U.S. armed forces stationed in Okinawa, Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps, could anyone explain what roles the Marines and Marine bases, especially a new one to be built at Henoko, will play in high-tech wars in the future? In recent Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the Marine bases functioned as staging-posts for troop deployment in those countries, that blatantly violated a provision stipulated in the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Camp Hansen, Camp Schwab and the Northern Training Area are all Marine training bases. Add to them a newly-to-be-installed base at Henoko. There's no strategic reason why they must be planted in Okinawa, say many military specialists. Satoshi Morimoto, a former Defense Minister, said so publicly and so did incumbent Defense Minister Gen Nakatani before he took office as Defense Minister.

Why is the U.S. so adamant in saying that the same level of deterrence must be maintained in Okinawa and also insisting that Futenma's replacement must be built within Okinawa? Probably, Kazuaki Shimazaki can answer this question for me

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Shimazaki san, you are conveniently ignoring my main points and addressing minor questions.

The main point: Okinawans were never given the chance to decide in a democratic process about the US military presence on their islands. They only had the choice to go for secession or swallow to be a kind of military colony within a "democratic" nation.

Also important: in the 60ies the central government did decide behind the back of Okinawans and against their expressed will about their long term future.

It would be impossible in a truly democratic nation to force a whole region (not a place or locality, but a region with its own history, culture, language) to swallow decisions made by the central government. There were such attempts, but usually they all ended in the establishment of autonomous regions, just like Corsica or Sardinia in Europe.

Imagine Washington forcing Hawaii to accept building a new military base against the large majority of Hawaiian voters. Impossible.

And that you and other posters here are trying to make this a NotInMyBackYard problem is absurd. Okinawa already hosts 70 plus % of the US military facilities in Japan and 20% of its very precious land is used by the US military. That Okinawans want to at least clearly reduce this presence is everything but NIMBY.

Even if the US military would only use 5% of Okinawa island Okinawans had their back yard full terrifying weapons. To call Okinawans NIMBY is simply impertinent.

Not quite illegal. He was entrusted by the voters. But there are days when the governor can't follow his mandate, especially since as you say Okinawa's not even independent.

But then at least you agree with me that in a democracy the voters have all the rights to correct their representatives misrepresentation?

Overall, my view is that Tokyo has been remarkably tolerant and willing to honor its agreements with the Okinawans,

No, Tokyo has not been tolerant with Okinawa. If Tokyo would have been "tolerant" with Okinawa, the prefecture would be in a completely different position and there would be much less military.

To be clear, Tokyo doesn't care a rotten nut for Okinawans.

Tokyo has used Okinawa as a commodity in WW2 and unfortunately this hasn't changed much. The only difference to WW2 is that Japan now has a constitution which at least formally protects the people. Something Abe is eager to water down as much as he can for obvious reasons.

And to try to make it look like as if there were any comprehensive agreements between the people of Okinawa and the Central Government about the US military presence in Okinawa is simply ridiculous.

Onega's failure is an inability to understand this basic fact.

I beg your pardon! You've got the cart before the horse.

It has been Onaga's success, that he represents the will of his people and is not kowtowing to the arrogance of power... at least up to know, but of course he's a politician and there's no guaranty that he won't backtrack under the massive pressure Tokyo is putting on him.

At the end what's at stake here is not one military facility more or less, but whether democracy in Japan succeeds or fails. This might sound dramatizing, but we should not forget, for the Okinawan people this is about dignity, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

PO15030033 7-810036765

The main point: Okinawans were never given the chance to decide in a democratic process about the US military presence on their islands. They only had the choice to go for secession or swallow to be a kind of military colony within a "democratic" nation.

That's because, as you say, they are not a sovereign nation, but a part of Japan. The whole of Japan represents their interests. However, it is inevitable that bases are built somewhere. So someone has to get shafted on this topic and Okinawa is geopolitically favorable.

Also important: in the 60ies the central government did decide behind the back of Okinawans and against their expressed will about their long term future.

Their only real alternative choice is for them to still have the bases, except they are under American "trusteeship" (in essence, a colony).

whole region (not a place or locality, but a region with its own history, culture, language) to swallow decisions made by the central government.

As a moral issue, I don't see how Okinawans should particularly get a free pass because its "history, culture or language" meets certain standards of uniqueness. The base might be bothersome, but if its burden is shifted to others for this reason, I'm actually sorry for the new "victim".

Imagine Washington forcing Hawaii to accept building a new military base against the large majority of Hawaiian voters.

How about, if said new military base is a replacement of an old one that the Hawaiian voters want removed. It is to be built at substantial expense, so the very move is in itself a concession on the federal government's part. Then, having gotten that concession out of the federal government, our Hawaiians alternately agree and disagree and work keeps starting and stopping for this reason. We might also add that this base is a cooperation with another country, so the Federal government looks like a fool every time the Hawaiians find some suitable pretense to stop work.

To call Okinawans NIMBY is simply impertinent.

I am somewhat sympathetic with them, but also honestly think this is one they have to choke down. At some point the position of the trash dump has to be decided, and geography and the limitations of physics are immovable.

But then at least you agree with me that in a democracy the voters have all the rights to correct their representatives misrepresentation?

Depends on the issue. If it is domestic, sure. They can vote him out next election and he can set a new policy.

When it involves "foreign" interests, no. As I've said, even if we pretend Okinawa is a sovereign country, at this point they've already signed the equivalent of an protocol with a foreign power to build this base. When foreign interests are involved, you can't just back off for your own convenience. And as you so adroitly point out, they aren't even that (which is one reason there aren't elegant agreements like you seem to want to have).

No, Tokyo has not been tolerant with Okinawa. If Tokyo would have been "tolerant" with Okinawa, the prefecture would be in a completely different position and there would be much less military.

You are confusing tolerance with indulgence. In essence, you are asking all of Japan to sacrifice for Okinawa. Is this fair?

Tokyo has used Okinawa as a commodity in WW2 and unfortunately this hasn't changed much.

Say what you want about WWII Japan, but they did send several divisions to defend it. And say what you want about Banzai Cliff, but I don't think any less would have been expected for any Japanese that found themselves in that situation. I'm not saying there isn't a problem in all this, but they were not shafted.

the will of his people and is not kowtowing to the arrogance of power... at least up to know, but of course he's a politician and there's no guaranty that he won't backtrack under the massive pressure Tokyo is putting on him.

I suspect he's just like his predecessor. Now, he's naive. Soon he'd know. Really, if anything the problem is these politicians, who are putting out cheques they either don't know or should know they can't cash. In the former, it's incompetence, the latter, its non-integrity. This integrity is ruining Okinawan-Honshu relations by giving the people false hope.

If Okinawans really are determined to get Americans out of Okinawa "mainland" at all costs, secession isn't the solution, unless they want to wind up the likes of those Russian-created states like South Ossetia. China might recognize them, but the world (led by the US) won't. You can bet all the talk about self-determination will come to nothing, and the elections validity would be denied and at worst the US will paint them as "terrorists" and they might even be crushed by US Marines. Even if that doesn't happen and the Americans begrudgingly withdraw, a few years later they'd probably be forced by their isolation to accept Chinese bases and we'll see who are the worst, Chinese or Americans :-)

Any realistic solution would involve getting Honshu's buy-in, and that means providing an alternative that would at least provide Japan (and not just themselves) with security. For example, they can refuse the bribe (assistance) that to a great extent was offered them for tolerating those bases, and then on their own effort, raise a divisions plus an air wing who will take over from the Americans. At the very least, they need to contribute enough of this kind of cost that Honshu might just be willing to chip in.

But no. Okinawans don't want that. They want the aid and no bases. It is really a bit hard to talk about pride when you are accepting such aid.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

That's because, as you say, they are not a sovereign nation,

You might have missed the fact that democracy works not only on the national level, but also prefectural, regional, neighborhood level. I wonder why you think that democratic processes only exist on a national level?

So someone has to get shafted on this topic and Okinawa is geopolitically favorable.

Don't pretend to be so naiv! There are dozens of other "geopolitically favorable places" in Japan, some closer to China, or to Korea or close to where ever. The reason Okinawa shoulders almost all of the weight is because it is (or at least was) easier to discriminate. Everybody knows that and Tokyo has a history of discriminating Okinawa.

Their only real alternative choice is for them to still have the bases, except they are under American "trusteeship" (in essence, a colony).

The choice of Okinawans is up to Okinawans... if they only knew they had a choice.

Okinawans wanted to get back to Japan to stop being a US military colony and didn't know that Tokyo had already decided they would go on to be one.

I don't see how Okinawans should particularly get a free pass

This exposes your discriminatory thinking towards Okinawa. Nobody is asking for a free pass (to say so is cynical twisting of facts) just for the respect of basic human rights.

It might be new to you that to respect the freedom of different cultural and religious identities is a basic condition of modern day democracy. To respect identity does not mean to elevate it above others.

You are confusing tolerance with indulgence. In essence, you are asking all of Japan to sacrifice for Okinawa. Is this fair?

What a absurd view! At the moment all of Okinawa is and has been sacrificing for Japan, tremendously! this is the problem! Who in Japan is sacrificing anything for Okinawa? Completely upside down reality view!

At some point the position of the trash dump has to be decided

Nice how you say that. To follow up on your analogy... Okinawa is now 19% trash dump and you think they should just shut up and swallow the trashing of a another peace of their precious nature to make it a 17% trash dump? Sorry for being a bit cynical, but if you start talking about trash...

I am somewhat sympathetic with them,

Oh yes, Okinawans can feel buckets full of your sympathy. Never mind my irony, but you sound like a colonial era Brit foreman in India.

Say what you want about WWII Japan, but they did send several divisions to defend it.

To defend it? Just that while defending it they eradicated the island and a large part of the civilian population. I wonder if our ideas about "defending" are from the same language root?

Most elder Okinawans feel they were just a "Suteishi", a stone thrown into the way of the attacker to protect the mainland.

It is really a bit hard to talk about pride when you are accepting such aid.

I think many Okinawans should read your cynical comments and make up their minds about what to expect from "somewhat sympathetic mainlanders".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki: Since you believe that the people of Okinawa should just keep sucking it up like they have for the last 70 years, I would like you to answer the following questions; Why does the United States need so many large bases on Okinawa to defend Japan? Why does the U.S. Military need so many dependents to be on Okinawa and why is so much of the base land used for Military Family Housing, Dependent Schools, Golf Courses and other leisure facilities that have nothing to do with any Military Mission. Why does the Japanese Govt. use the taxpayers money to build on-base facilities that are not Mission Essential Facilities but are just to provide an American Style quality of life for the Military and their dependents at the expense of the quality of life for the people of Okinawa?

The truth is that Okinawa is the U.S. Military's last overseas empire. The last place where they can do whatever they want and they have a host government who will give them whatever they want and never question why they need it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

japan4life: Why does the United States need so many large bases on Okinawa to defend Japan? ... Why does the Japanese Govt. use the taxpayers money ...

Japan doesn't want to be a nation of spongers, do they? Take just what they need out of the situation, and not give back anything?

Hey, why not ask the USA to pay for ALL of it?

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sponger

sponger - A person who repeatedly borrows things. Often a person who also doesnt return them and adopts the attitude that you exist solely as a free equipment supply warehouse.

This stems from an underlying attitude problem where the person believes they will get away with whatever they can, to get through life.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

bam_booMAR. 27, 2015 - 07:41PM JST

You might have missed the fact that democracy works not only on the national level

Oh yes, but while policies like education and police are often farmed out to prefectures / states / provinces, defense is a national matter.

some closer to China, or to Korea or close to where ever.

Exactly. And Okinawa is suitably close to all of those places of interest. It also helps that they already had bases, but it is always easier to hold onto a base than to try to build a new one, and geopolitics shouldn't be ingored.

Okinawans wanted to get back to Japan to stop being a US military colony and didn't know that Tokyo had already decided they would go on to be one.

If they actually thought those US bases will really go, they were naive. To put it bluntly, the US wants those bases and Japan has very few hard cards to play to force the US out. Any time you have so few cards to play and your opponent so many, there are limits to what can be done.

Nobody is asking for a free pass (to say so is cynical twisting of facts) just for the respect of basic human rights.

It was you who brought up all that culture crap like Okinawans should get an edge due to it. The way I see it, everyone has a culture, and if Okinawa gets off because of its culture, you are actually discriminating against everyone else.

At the moment all of Okinawa is and has been sacrificing for Japan, tremendously!

Let me agree that those bases are something of a sacrifice for Okinawa. On the other hand, if we accept the premise that they are there at least partially because it is an optimum location (remember, the US had its pick of Japan after WWII and they chose the current deployment), then shifting the bases elsewhere means military inefficiency - i.e. less security for all Japan.

Just that while defending it they eradicated the island and a large part of the civilian population.

Battles are destructive. I am aware of the Suteishi theory, but I just don't see it. Yes, they were rolled, but as far as I can see that's because they happened to be in a forward position. When the enemy is attacking and you are on the frontier you will be the first to die. It is not because you are a Suteishi - you were just closer to the enemy and they rolled you up first on the way to the rest of your country!

japan4lifeMAR. 27, 2015 - 11:47PM JST

Why does the United States need so many large bases on Okinawa to defend Japan?

Because it is in a central location, which allows it to cover crises in Taiwan, Korea and Kyushu. Ensuring favorable conditions in the East China Sea area is good for Japan.

As for the rest of this, if we accept the premise that American military must be on Okinawa, why do you think they should be deprived of their usual comforts, such as their dependents. Are Okinawans so selfish they can think only of themselves? Do you propose that Americans should be confined to their landing ships ... etc?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

A very interesting war of words is fanning out on this thread over the U.S. military presence in Okinawa.

For those with a penchant for rightist ideology in Japan, nothing would make them happier than the U.S. military presence because the U.S. forces are here to defend Japan. For such people, the USFJ is nothing different from a mercenary unit which must be paid handsomely for their good work.

Thus, providing them with 18% of Okinawa Island's land mass for bases plus housing, shopping centers, schools, golf courses, beaches, mariners and other leisure facilities is nothing worthy of note. If the U.S. asks for a replacement for a dilapidated base, Japan must concur without a delay. No big deal, maybe.

But is the USFJ a mercenary unit under the command of the JSDF? No, it's definitely the other way around. I wonder how those posters who argue for keeping the U.S. military presence and for the Henoko relocation plan would react to such a view that the USFJ is a mercenary force hired by Tokyo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

voiceofokinawaMAR. 28, 2015 - 03:22PM JST

But is the USFJ a mercenary unit

While Americans may be offended, to the Japanese point of view there is more than a grain of truth to this view. Unfortunately they are not under the command ... but you know what, a unit of similar combat value alone that's fully under Japan's command ... that won't be the same price tag ... to say nothing of the promise that they will bring more (which is again worth a lot).

But, most of the pressure to build Henoko is actually on the Japanese side. Americans are reasonably happy with Futenma.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki: There are places in the world where military families cannot be stationed and I believe Okinawa should be one. If a person cannot stand to be to be separated from their family then they should not be in the U.S. Military. Military Personnel should come here, do their jobs and then go back to their families stateside. Having dependents means you need to have massive amounts of land to provide them housing, schools and leisure facilities. Take a good look at the base land on Okinawa and see how much is used because of dependents. Half of Kadena Air Base is taken up by dependent housing, schools and leisure facilities. Land on Okinawa is too scarce to have it taken up by facilities that have nothing to do with fulfilling the Military Mission. Besides the U.S. and Japan is always saying that we could be attacked by China or North Korea at anytime, why would you want to have all of those dependent adults and children in harms way. Could you imagine what it would take to evacuate dependents from Okinawa in case of an emergency?

I do not believe that Okinawa should have to bear the burden to defend countries in the region that do not want U.S. bases themselves. Why should the people of Okinawa have to sacrifice to defend the Philippines which kicked the U.S. out.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@japan4life

Military Personnel should come here, do their jobs and then go back to their families

You are really making me lose what little sympathy I have left for the anti-base Okinawans. Yes, there are such things as "hardship posts", but generally they are for places where the possibility of conflict is particularly high or other conditions are bad - in a sense, they are "too shoddy" for proper Americans. Do you want Okinawa to be such a place?

Yes, military men are expected to face hardship but it does not mean the hardship should be inflicted as a matter of course. If anything, the fact you expect them to make greater sacrifices when necessary is, if you believe all men are equal, a justification to treat them somewhat better than average whenever possible so things balance out.

Why should the people of Okinawa have to sacrifice to defend the Philippines which kicked the U.S. out.

And now that China has reared its head, the Phillipines is feeling somewhat sorry about its choice. Further, you might remember that Japan is vitally dependent on trade and thus requires as favorable a regime as possible throughout the South China and East China Sea route. Okinawa helps provide that security.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki Mar. 28, 2015 - 09:08PM JST

*But, most of the pressure to build Henoko is actually on the Japanese side. Americans are reasonably happy with Futenma.

*Is that your personal opinion or the impression you got from the situation? Or is it insider information? Could you elebaroate a little?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Without the US bases in the West Pacific region, does anyone imagine that the situation would be the same?

China marks the South China Sea and surrounding islands as their territory, even WITH the US bases within reach.

China's proxy DPRK would be shooting their random rounds over Japan's Tsushima Island, if not for US-supported DMZ line.

China wouldn't be poking around the Senkakus once in a while, but occupying them by now.

All those bases are for the direct benefit of the smaller countries in the region, and only indirectly benefit the USA. Why shouldn't Japan pay 100% of the costs of forces maintained there for their benefit?

USA could just stand down, wait for the ashes to burn down from the ensuing conflagration, and come back in the theater, to a weakened enemy. Quit whining about the 'US mercenary forces' when Japan isn't even paying 100 pct.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Let me clarify my position. To regard the USFJ as a mercenary unit hired by Tokyo is nothing but an illusion. Squandering money on them is therefore meaningless and foolish. One must know that the USFJ is a carry-over of the WW II Occupation forces which has the same privileges and perquisites they enjoyed during the Occupation period.

The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty guarantees such favors for U.S. forces and personnel, so that one can say without hesitation that the treaty is a mere facade to conceal the hard fact that the WW II occupation is still going on.

Now, as for the Henoko relocation issue, Kazuaki Shimazaki says it's rather Tokyo, not Washington, that is more eager for the relocation to be implemented. He implies that the new base at Henoko will become a JSDF base anyway. If I remember correctly, Tokyo once asked Washington to make Henoko a joint Japan-U.S. base, which was flatly rejected by Washington. So Kazuaki Shimazaki may be correct in saying that Tokyo is more eager to carry out the Henoko relocation.

Whatever, Futenma must be closed without any strings attached .and the Henoko relocation must be prevented by all means.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki MAR. 28, 2015 - 11:30AM JST

If they actually thought those US bases will really go, they were naive.

Okinawans were not naiv, they just believed they would get the same rights as the other Japanese prefectures, nothing more and nothing less. But what they became is a second grade prefecture without proper rights.

and if Okinawa gets off because of its culture, you are actually discriminating against everyone else.

This is a grave misconception of yours, but one that many Japanese seem to share, because of Japans seeming cultural homogeneity and almost no experiences with different cultural identities I believe. If I respect your identity Shimazaki do I have to discriminate someone else? Funny idea!

I am aware of the Suteishi theory, but I just don't see it.

Suteishi might be a "theory" for mainlanders, for Okinawans it is a reality. The island was not defended it was practically blown up with all life on it. To say the Japanese military defended Okinawa is complete nonsense. The Japanese military defended Japan, but sacrificed Okinawa. Just look at reality and stop deceiving yourself.

Are Okinawans so selfish they can think only of themselves?

This comment is dai shitsurei and shows us how far away mr. Shimazaki is from reality in Okinawa. You mainlander Japanese are selfish to abuse Okinawa in such a blatant and ruthless way.

But, most of the pressure to build Henoko is actually on the Japanese side. Americans are reasonably happy with Futenma.

Oh yes Americans are reasonably happy with having Okinawa at their disposal. And by the way the US military clearly prefers the new Henoko facility to Futenma because it gives them bright new possibilities with a deep sea harbor adjacent to their air field. Henoko is a completely different facility then Futenma and much more convenient for the military, that's why the US military was planning this facility just like it is planned now since the 1960ies and would never let go.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki: So the U.S. Military do not deserve a hardship tour on Okinawa but the people of Okinawa deserve a hardship life on their own island? So the people of Okinawa on their small island with limited land space should provide for the defense of Japan, the defense of the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and all of the other of Japan`s trading partners and also be a playground for the U.S. Military? If the people of Okinawa are expected to do all of this then they should definitely not be the poorest prefecture in Japan, they should at least be in the Top Ten of the richest prefectures.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@japan4life

So the people of Okinawa on their small island with limited land space should provide for the defense of Japan, the defense of the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and all of the other of Japan`s trading partners and also be a playground for the U.S. Military?

Considering their position, unfortunately it is their lot to provide for Japan's defense - that's the lot of any location near the border. That they are being asked to bear somewhat more is recognized, and rewarded by a generous support grant from the national government. You can debate whether that is enough or any money, blah blah blah - these debates go in circles but their sacrifice is being recognized.

The fact of life is that Okinawa is an outskirt of Japan. It is not that often that an outskirt will be among the richest in a country, unless it has some advantages, so rather than complaining about top ten / bottom ten, think about how badly off Okinawa can get without the US bases. Yes, the anti-base movement keep thinking that life with no bases will be life with bases + alpha, but it is also a strong possibility that such an outskirt as Okinawa would be left as a complete backwater without US bases and be substantially poorer off, with much weaker infrastructures.

@bam_booMAR. 29, 2015 - 11:29AM JST

why the US military was planning this facility just like it is planned

SInce the Japanese are making it for them, they might as well enjoy the advantages I guess. But they are not enthusiastic enough to front their own money. One can only conclude they are reasonably happy where they were.

The island was not defended it was practically blown up with all life on it.

By the Americans. I must ask for specific reasons why you think Japan sacrificed Okinawa rather than it just being a failed defense. As far as I'm concerned, you can only say you are suteishi if you can demonstrate that another island, under similar circumstances, would have been better protected, or the Japanese military will have let it become an open city or something along those lines.

@voiceofokinawaMAR. 29, 2015 - 07:55AM JST Well, there is a grain of truth to the USFJ being kind of an occupation force. However, it is also true that they are bound by treaty. Yes it does have loopholes, but they are more put in for Japan's sake, and Americans will lose their status trying to use them.

Whether you see them as allies, occupiers or both, the fact is that without them, Japan will have to pay lots more to obtain equivalent defense capability and credibility. The Japanese people have decided that one way or another they'll suffer the Americans.

If Okinawa wants the US out, the least they have to do is offer a solution that will provide Japan with defense that's at least a shadow of what the Americans offer. But they aren't even doing 1/10th of that. The Okinawan position is ... no US bases, no SDF bases either, but give us the same darn grants as before. Hmm... is that not a bit highway-robberish?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki: Mar. 30, 2015 - 07:38PM JST,

The question at issue is not about whether all U.S. bases in Okinawa should be closed but whether a new base should be built at Henoko, thus squandering Japanese taxpayers' money and destroying pristine nature. The Henoko relocation also means the U.S. presence or pseudo-occupation will last forever regardless of whether there's a "China/North Korea threat" or not. Remember the Marines openly suggested that the new base at Henoko be constructed in such a way as its age of service must be 40 years and its durability 200 years.

Let me repeat what I posted above (Mar. 26, 2015 - 03:59PM JST). I said:

"Camp Hansen, Camp Schwab and the Northern Training Area are all Marine training bases. Add to them a newly-to-be-installed base at Henoko. There's no strategic reason why the new base must be planted in Okinawa, say many military specialists. Satoshi Morimoto, a former Defense Minister, said so publicly and so did incumbent Defense Minister Gen Nakatani before he took office as Defense Minister."

Why then does Kazuaki Shimazaki insist, just as the U.S. government does, that Futenma's replacement must be built within Okinawa? Can he explain?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites