He concludes, “While admitting that even one such act is horrible, and taking into account the fact that some such acts may not have been reported during the early years of The Occupation, this is still not such a bad record, everything considered.”
This issue — and the outrage of Japanese citizens in Okinawa and elsewhere — is not about the number or even the intensity of the incidents. Looking at the numbers suggests that citizens are approaching the issue rationally. They’re not. Nor, it could be argued, should they.
The occupation ended with the signing of the San Francisco treaty in 1951 and Okinawa reverted to Japanese control in 1972, but the enduring presence of US forces in Japan have served as a constant reminder of the psychic whiplash inflicted by the rapid shift from total war to atomic bombing to occupation to alliance. They are a constant reminder of the shame of losing the war and being occupied.
US forces in Japan are the symbol of Japan’s compromised independence, a belief that unites Japanese across the political spectrum. After all, when the LDP formed in 1955, four years after the treaty that restored Japan’s independence, the party still insisted that one of its main purposes was the restoration of Japan’s full independence. To this day, conservatives chafe at the vestige of occupation that is the USFJ, even at the same time that they recognize the value of the alliance and demand measures to strengthen it and prolong the US forward presence.
Rapes, plane crashes and other incidents simply exacerbate tension that exists even at the best of times.
How much longer can this schizophrenia endure?
During the cold war, the alliance’s existence depended on the stationing of US forces in Japan to bolster the US commitment to defend Japan. In the twenty-first century, the alliance’s existence may depend on the removal of US forces, enabling Japan to take responsibility for its own defense.