Preparing to retreat?

As the Hatoyama government approaches the end of its first 100 days in office, the air is thick with condemnation of the DPJ-led government’s handling of the relationship with the United States, particularly the ongoing dispute over the future of Futenma air station and the US presence in Okinawa.

Smelling blood in the water, the LDP and its allies in the conservative commentariat have gone on the offensive against the government. On Thursday Tanigaki Sadakazu, the leader of the LDP, said that the government was acting irresponsibly when it came to the hopes of the Okinawan people and harming relations with the US. Compared to what others were saying, Tanigaki was being charitable. Conservative journalist Sakurai Yoshiko, speaking in Kyushu at a forum sponsored by the Sankei-affiliated journal Seiron, said the Hatoyama government was effectively giving comfort to China by taking on the US on Futenma. (Sakurai also criticized the Hatoyama government for neglecting the military to spend money on child allowances, and insisted that Japan is on the path to becoming a dependency of China.) Sankei‘s prose is no less purple than Sakurai’s. In an editorial published Thursday, Sankei accused the Hatoyama government of creating a crisis in the US-Japan alliance, and says that Hatoyama has committed an act of betrayal towards President Obama by prioritizing the stability of his government over his country’s security.

Richard Armitage, visiting Tokyo earlier this week along with Michael Green, added his criticism of the Hatoyama government in a meeting with Tanigaki, questioning the government’s ability to lead.

It is hard not to conclude that the Hatoyama government has miscalculated, in part I think because Hatoyama assumed that he could resolve the problem by speaking frankly with Obama (which would explain the prime minister’s desire to summit with Obama on the sidelines in Copenhagen). In effect, Hatoyama seems to have desired the mirror image of Koizumi Junichiro’s relationship with George W. Bush: where the Bush-Koizumi relationship deepened Japan’s dependence on the US and led Japan to support US wars abroad, his relationship with Obama would based on mutual trust and would result in the creation of an “equal” US-Japan relationship that would focus on cooperation in non-security fields.

To build this relationship Hatoyama seems to have decided to take a calculated risk. If the two countries could tackle Futenma quickly — an issue which has been a millstone around the alliance for years — the way would be open to the kind of relationship Hatoyama purports to desire. By addressing this issue in the first months of its tenure, his government could signal a break with past practices in the alliance and demonstrate its ability to follow through on its promises and its deftness in foreign policy.

Instead the Hatoyama government faces its worst-case scenario: it has painted itself into a corner, having systematically eliminated alternatives to the current agreement, while appearing incompetent in its handling of foreign policy, deepening the mistrust of US officials (many of whom were already skeptical about the DPJ) in the process. Also, by dangling the possibility of a new agreement that could remove Marines from Okinawa entirely, the Hatoyama government raised the hopes of the Okinawan people, perhaps to unreasonable heights.

I am hesitant to declare this situation a crisis for the alliance because the Hatoyama government may already be moving in the direction of accommodation: Hatoyama has said that all options are on the table (including the agreement on hand), and has indicated that his government’s plan will be forthcoming as early as next week. Foreign Minister Okada Katsuya has concluded that relocating Futenma’s operations to Kadena is not an option. After visiting Guam, Defense Minister Kitazawa Toshimi — perhaps the leading defender of the status quo in the cabinet — concluded that relocating Futenma to Guam is not doable. The Hatoyama government is running out of alternatives to the 2006 agreement. Even the Social Democrats may be coming around: a senior member of her own party criticized SDPJ leader Fukushima Mizuho for suggesting that she could pull her party out of the government over the Futenma issue.

If it ends up embracing the 2006 agreement, it will be hard to conclude that the Hatoyama government did not injure itself by dragging out the process only to maintain the status quo. I do not think that it will be a mortal blow to the government because ultimately Futenma is a low-stakes issue domestically. It does reinforce the image that the DPJ is inexperienced on foreign policy, but then the Japanese public already believed that last summer before the general election and still voted the DPJ into power. More significantly, it calls into question Hatoyama’s ability to lead his cabinet.

I am more sanguine than most when it comes to the significance of disagreements among cabinet ministers — I do think that the DPJ’s model is a prime minister who is first among equals. That being said, on the Futenma issue Hatoyama has not been first at all, despite his periodic interjections to remind the public and the US that the final decision will be his and his alone. Given the sensitivities of this issue, Hatoyama needed to use a heavier hand to guide the deliberations of his ministers. Someone needed to take control of the process of reviewing the agreement. Okada tried, but apparently failed. It needed to be the prime minister. Hatoyama may be trying to correct that now, but the damage has been done.

What have we learned from this dispute?

First, my earlier misgivings about Hatoyama’s ability to lead are justified. Hatoyama seems to have some idea of where he wants to take Japan, but he seems to have little idea how to go about it. Hatoyama strikes me as too much of a dreamer and not enough of a strategist. This tendency would be less of a problem if Hatoyama had a Machiavelli in his cabinet, but it is not yet clear to me who in the government will fill this role, if anyone. (For all we know it may be Ozawa Ichiro after all, although I am not convinced of this just yet.)

Second, as noted above, I think the lasting damage from this dispute will be limited, especially if it works out in Washington’s favor. Having been burned on this issue and facing an general election upper house election (I hope writing general election where I meant upper house election doesn’t prove prescient) and a fight over the budget in the new year, we will be hearing less from the Hatoyama government on foreign policy in the months to come, perhaps clearing the air for a proper discussion of the future of the alliance and the future of US forces in Japan (what Hatoyama, Ozawa, and others are most interested in anyway). This discussion needs to happen, the sooner the better, and Futenma and Okinawa are sideshows to the bigger question of where the DPJ sees the alliance in its Asia-centered foreign policy and what is the minimum level of commitment the US will expect from Japan if the alliance indeed narrows its focus to the defense of Japan. Someone, if not Hatoyama, needs to start signaling how the Japanese government plans to translate its foreign policy ideals into concrete policy.

Third, the DPJ may hold the upper hand in its relationship with the SDPJ. The SDPJ does have the nuclear option of pulling out of the government and reducing it to a minority in the upper house, but it is a one-shot weapon. Once the SDPJ uses it, it’s done and who is to say how the SDPJ would fare in a snap election triggered by its pulling out of the government. What would the SDPJ have to gain from pulling out of the government? With Fukushima in the cabinet it has a seat at the table, giving it more influence over policy now than it could expect to have in opposition (just ask the LDP) or as a silent partner in the Diet. While the SDPJ’s hand — and, for that matter, the PNP’s hand — looks impressive given that it holds the balance in the upper house, its position is weaker than meets the eye.

The Hatoyama government misplayed the Futenma dispute. But it is possible that the prime minister and his ministers will learn from the experience and be a bit savvier the next time around.

29 thoughts on “Preparing to retreat?

  1. I would have waited just a bit longer before making the above commentary. I don't think this story is over yet. There may well be some surprises ahead. My own wishful thinking is that the end result will be a reduction in the US troop presence in this country. Also, it is unreasonable and annoying for people like Armitage and Roos to expect the new government to carry out an agreement the LDP made and could not implement over all these years.


  2. Speaking from within the US, I personally think the US feathers that were ruffled will settle pretty quickly if Futenma goes in their favour. But it would be a gesture that might well be intended to characterise the DPJ's dealing with the US. I voted for Obama, but I'm not one of those who thinks he should get an easy ride or special treatment.If Hatoyama had just let Futenma slide and gone to any lengths to cozy up to Obama, surely he would have received more flak?


  3. Anonymous

    Dear Tobias, It shows the incompetence of the US gov. to see the new Minshuto government as an equal partner at the conversation table. I'm not sure why the relocation of 8,000 marines and the building of a military base should be such a big issue. Why would the two biggest economic powerhouses want to waste their time by talking childishly about a military base?


  4. Your country's genius George Kennan wrote 70 years ago in \”American Diplomacy\” If others failed to heed us, we would cause them to appear in ungraceful postures before the eyes of world opinion. If, on the other hand, they gave heed to our urgings, they would do so at their own risk;we would not feel bound to help them with the resulting problems-they were on their own. This is what President Obama has done to Prime Minister Hatoyama.


  5. YY

    What should have been apparent from the very beginning was that the move to the ecologically unfortunate proposed site was the best realistic outcome in the short term. At least that would have helped with the very local but real noise issue with the residents. Failing that, there is no hope for rational decision making for Okinawa nor for the country for the much more complex issue of the \”alliance'. Which is not just a matter of local residents being disturbed and being pissed off. As a casual observer of events, it is painful to watch these guys step in it and to mix metaphors (that's allowed in Japanese) dig themselves in deeper. As to how it plays in the US, I don't really think that it registers except among those who have vested interest in US military presence, or the very people that are in position to make things easier or more difficult. Awareness outside of this military/security community is zero and will continue to be zero. The issue is one that is magnified by the proximity of the military installations to the host country population (unlike in Western Europe). If there were no Aircraft noise and no misbehavior of American military personnel, there would in fact be no urgent issues. Something that is not central in the awareness of those who push around toy battle ships on the world map.


  6. Ed

    As an American, I'll add that my entire knowledge of this dispute comes from this blog. There is zero awareness in the US of any controversy over American military presence in Japan outside of the people handling the issue directly.I also have no idea how maintaining the base enhances US (or Japanese) national security. The use of narrow interests to capture parts of the policymaking apparatus using opacity actually runs much deeper in the US than in Japan.


  7. Jake

    I'm glad that Tobias is starting to be a little more critical of Hatoyama and the DJP. They could not have handled this issue in a worse way. Hatoyama misread Obama as being the same wide-eyed idealist that he is. Obama knows that he has to take security issues seriously if he is to be re-elected. Elements of Japanese society have long taken their security for granted.


  8. Anonymous

    I don't pretend to understand why the DPJ government seems to think they have options and power, where they don't.But now that we're at the endgame, US should allow Hatoyama to reword the agreement around the margins so that he saves a bit of face. And maybe this unhappy \”low stakes\” episode will serve notice that you only screw yourself by making promises to a constituency (Okinawanas) that CANNOT possibly be kept.


  9. Much is made of the special “relationship” between U.S. and Japan, and the “damage” caused be Hatoyama administration. Odd, isn’t it that this special relationship does not allow for a free flow of opinions and ideas. Funny that when Japan expresses an opinion that it wants to share with its “partner”, Japan then is threatened with the might of U.S.’s global clout. Japan must behave as if it just lost“the War”, obsequious and obliging. This is insulting on its face and more to the point, it is exactly this type of treatment that the Japanese are concerned about. On one hand Japan is asked to share more in the management and the cost of the world’s problems, which is absolutely warranted. Yet, on the other hand, Japan must shut up about what ever concerns it may have regarding its own citizens.Is this the “special relationship” people are talking about? Doesn’t it sound unhealthy?


  10. @apple407I agree. Even though the DPJ's Okinawa stubbornness may only be a gesture – as the bureaucrat-roasting trials may be more show than reality – I think it at least makes a statement.As for the USA's 'special relationships', I think Masa's citation of George Kennan says it all. Having lived in Britain, that is precisely how 'special' comes across.


  11. Anonymous

    The Japanese government to be taken seriously on this issue needs to come up with a reasonable, unified alternative to the Camp Schwab arrangment. So far all we've heard are criticisms of the US-LDP agreement without a coherant counterresponse. At which point, Hatoyama will hopefully decide that he should choose his fights more carefully next time. Because this may look like a huge issue from a DPJ/Okinawan perspective, but an Obama administration facing a daunting array of foreign and security challenges globally understandably has little appetite to renegotiate the base agreements (again!) even in a year or two. Although we always knew progress on security policy would be incremental as Hatoyama himself is an enthusiast for changing the constitution. And taking another look at the SOFA agreement simultenous with a free and candid public debate on Constitutional reform within Japan would be a step to actually persuasively signal a new assertiveness in the relationship. Bickering and arguing over the exact location of runways at the new airfield does nothing but create a lightning rod for frustration and mistrust to build up among everyone involved.


  12. Jake

    The relationship between the United States and Japan is more than a \”special relationship.\” The United States takes on the role that the Japanese will not take on themselves, as the main deterrent force against potential enemies. Japan could take on this role for itself but it will not. Both countries benefit from the arrangement, but don't pretend that it is an equal one. The US unilaterally pledges to defend Japan in the event of an attack, there is no reciprocal obligation on Japan's part. I sympathize with the Japanese wanting to make the relationship more \”equal\” but it just does not work. The type of security relationship between Japan and the US is inherently unequal, one side holds all the hard power trump cards. Case closed.The only way for the US-Japan relationship to become more equal is for Japan to develop an independent military force capable of projecting power, and there is no stomach in Japan for that. Much as we would like to think otherwise, there is simply no substitute for hard power in an anarchic international system.


  13. Kamoshika Bob

    in response to Jake,the issue of equal or not aside, historically, the US military presence in Japan is as much about protecting the rest of Asia from Japan, as it is about protecting Japan from Communist or other forces.Although the Japanese people and government have chosen not to change their pacifist constitution (so far), let us not forget that it was the US-led Allied occupation authorities that wrote a constitution that relinquishes the right of the nation of Japan to go to war or to deploy its military beyond its post-war boundaries.If Japan were to assume full responsibility for its own military and defense capabilities, the outcry from Korea and China would be enormous. Eastern memories seem to last longer than Western ones. Although there may be many comfortable aspects to having US forces being a prime component of Japan's defense, I would argue that it is not because they lack the stomach or the will, but because there are lasting effects of World War II inside as well of outside Japan that have not been fully recognized and resolved.


  14. Anonymous

    You write that Hatoyama assumed that he could resolve the problem by speaking frankly with Obama. It would be great if you summarise your views of how the Obama visit went — there is no indication in your blog, unfortunately! It would also be interesting to report other people's position, e.g. Shizuka Kamei's (I read in the WSJ that he said: \”So long as the CIA does not assassinate me, things will not go back to the way things were before, when Japan simply followed America's lead.\”)


  15. Hi, I'm curious about your perspective on the recent drama surrounding the Chinese VP Xi Jinping's visit to the Emperor and where it fall into the context of Hatoyama (or Ozawa) trying to reshape the US/Japan alliance via the Futenma issue. It seems like China and the LDP are the big benefactors of this. Thanks!


  16. Robert Taira

    Dear Tobais, As an American living in Okinawa, I am expecting a decision on the Futenma issue. Futenma needs to be moved and I was expecting an Obama administration to validate that Americans are not needed in Japan and should be slowly withdrawn. The US military is in Japan to watch over Japan and not for security in Asia. As for security, the US could not keep China in check after WWII, in Korea, in Vietnam and now in the Iranian affair. The US has been buying and supporting the communist Chinese since the 80’s and the US consumer does not want to be weaned away from its cheep prices at Walmart. PM Hatoyama is now having Japan follow the footsteps of the U.S. by cozying up to China, sending Japanese technology to China and getting back cheap products for its Daie and Jusco stores. Gee, Toyota (Japan) would not go into China since it did not want to divulge technology secrets to China but General Motors (USA) didn’t mind divulging and is one of the largest automakers in China. Looks like the US is speaking out of both sides of its … again.


  17. PaxAmericana

    Wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that Japan holds most of the cards in this poker game? The US wants this badly, and should pay to play. The fact that the US or US-affiliated interests in Japan make a ruckus about it was to be expected. In fact, the moaning and groaning seems to provide evidence of how much they want this – and not proof of how badly the DPJ has handled things. The bigger issue is that the DPJ doesn't really seem to know what it wants out of the situation.I also second the post from Wataru about it being too soon to talk about \”preparing to retreat\”.


  18. Pax,You're right — Japan does hold, if not all the cards, then at least a pretty good hand. The US wants the deal done, and would prefer to do it with as little acrimony and delay as possible. The DPJ could use that to its advantage in securing concessions, although I don't know whether they've decided what they would take from the US as compensation for following along.As for whether this is a retreat or not, I think disengaging for five months or so and revisiting the issue later is a tactical retreat of sorts. I really do think that Hatoyama anticipated Washington to be more amenable even to just discussing the issue.But ultimately I think the DPJ will retreat because it is out of alternatives to the status quo. Unless they find some community in mainland Japan that wants to host the Marines, it's hard to see what options are still on the table.


  19. Anonymous

    Marines are staying in Okinawa, simply because Japan pays the money. There is no military reason that Marines have to stay in Okinawa.I think there are several ways to get rid of Futenma. First, stop paying 20 billion yen ($200 million) per year, which Japan has no obligation to pay. Second, pass a resolution to recover Futenma. After all, its Japanese sovereign territory. Third, change SOFA at the same time. Currently, marine corps are refusing to give to the Japanese authority the custody of a marine who ran over and killed a Japanese old man in Yomitan village in Okinawa. This has been going on for more than 10 days. These three can be combined.From the beginning, the removal of Futenma started because of a gang rape of 12 year old Japanese schoolgirl by three marines in 1995. This, and the obstruction of justice by marine corps (this again according to SOFA) shocked Okinawa and Japan. The more shocking thing is that marine corps in Futenma base behaved as supporters of gang-rapists and pedophiles. If they behave like this, especially marines, it is very difficult for the Japanese to believe that marines are protecting the Japanese, when they are actually hurting them. Every time Gates or Roos opens their mouth, Japan has to remind them of the gang-rape of 1995 and the murderer in a marine base who is evading the justice at this very moment.By the way, one of the pedophile marines later raped and killed a woman in Georgia, and killed himself, after dishonorable discharge.


  20. Anonymous

    The amount Japan is paying is about $2 billion/year, not $200 million. Sorry, my mistake.Another method is cooperating with Chinese military. Japan will start naval exercise with Chinese navy next year, significantly reducing the military threat or tension between the two. Ergo, the reduction of amphibian forces.Looking at the way Roos behaves, he is not behaving on some noble principle, but on money (the relocation cost to Guam and Omoiyari money). If money talks, it would be better to combine US treasury bonds that China and Japan have. US cannot even finance two current wars without the assistance of China and Japan. It would be obvious which amount is bigger.


  21. Anonymous

    Are there any signs at all that Obama has any idea about Futenma? While this is a very important issue for Japan, I get the feeling that the US has completly ignored the resentment in Okinawa and Japan, believing that in 2009, it would be business as usual with Japan. Big mistake.


  22. Anonymous

    I do not think Obama caused the problem. It is more LDP-Japan handlers issue. There is no change of policy on the American side. A very teeny tiny fraction of people on the American side have been controlling the whole issue. Richard Armitage and Michael Green. Who else?From the Japanese point of view, American policy has been eroding the alliance over the decade. What happened to the North Korea. Even after Bush talked with Yokota Megumi's mother, he erased NK from the list of state supporters of terrorism. Sure, he was impressed by her story. But was she trying to entertain Bush by her three decade story of her daughter abducted by NK? Now, US-China relationship is the most important bilateral relationship according to US. Then there is little possibility or capability of US defending Japan from Chinese invasion (if there is such a thing at all). Probably there is nothing US can do about Sino-Japanese conflict over small islands or deep sea oil fields in East China Sea. Or worse, US could tell Japan to comply with the Chinese demands in such cases. US did nothing for the South Korean occupation of Takeshima, or Chinese claim on Senkaku islands. Because deterrence means nothing without will, the Japanese are beginning to doubt what US is staying in Japan for. Perhaps, it may be better to deal use Japanese soft power than American hard hammer.The fallacy of American nuclear umbrella is extreme. Can US sacrifice New York, DC and Los Angels for Beijing and Shanghai, when Japan is attacked by China? No way. Typical nuclear warhead is 425kton, which is 30 times bigger than Hiroshima bomb. This means 10 mile radius of bombing back to geological age. US could not handle 3,000 civilian deaths by 911. Of course it is atrocity, terrorism, innocent people, as we know. But stop and think. US killed 300,000 civilians with the atomic bombs and told Japan to live with it. 911 is simply 1 % of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By the way, US killed 100,000 civilians by Napalm bombing of Tokyo on March 10, 1945. Even though it is 30 times of 911, Tokyo bombing is not even a story compared to Atomic bombs.China and Japan have had a good relationship over 1,000 years except several short periods. There has been no military alliance, but human, historical, economical ties run deep in Asia. China, Taiwan and Japan are the only three Kanji nations. Since Chinese living conditions are better than decade ago, it is much easier for the Chinese and the Japanese to share common economic and defense interests.The problem is that US is not changing the policy according to the new reality. And now US is claiming that there is no alliance adjustment because US does not like the situation of Futenma base. In that case, the options that Japan can take would be to give soft pressure to US by improving the relationship with China and Russia. This is what exactly they are doing now.


  23. Anonymous 18 Dec seems to have summed it up pretty well. The only wild card is the DPJ not knowing what they want to do. Today, we find out that the DPJ now wants to change another campaign promise and set a limit on who will receive child assistance monies. The limit is not the problem; the problem is the back tracking again by the DPJ on campaign promises. If the DPJ continues on this trend, they may not be in office for long. Japan has been the LDP and the DPJ were put in to punish the LDP. If the DPJ continues to recant their campaign pledges, the US may get whatever it wants again with the LDP back in power.


  24. Anonymous

    deveit has a good point.DPJ has to have a strong will. Fortunately or unfortunately, Hatoyama is not an aggressive person.The ultimate solution should be buying out national debt by Bank of Japan. Since Yen is too strong now, and there is no risk of inflation at this point, Bank of Japan should buy 30 trillion yen of national debt. Or, DPJ can issue government-issued currency, which is legal under the current law. This is almost the same as issuing treasury bonds, except there is no interest rates. However, there is no chance of LDP coming back to power for 4 years. Since DPJ has 302 seats (slightly less than two thirds) in lower house, and lower house determines the prime minister, DPJ has no reason to give up the power. Polls indicate roughly 40 % support for DPJ, 20 % for LDP. If this continues until upper house election next summer, LDP has to wait 6 years more.


  25. Anonymous

    The Futenma relocation issue is both objective and symbolic of the whole nexus of issues complicating the US-Japan relationship. If the defense minister thinks it impossible to move the Marines to Guam then I say move them to a less controversial location in Okinawa or elsewhere in Japan. As an oldtimer perhaps still wrapped up in a Cold War mindset, I find it ludicrous to dismiss the nuclear umbrella that the US has provided for 65 years. Japanese who take this idealistic view of the Chinese and other potential adversaries don't get it. They need to get more realistic about the world of realpolitik. Abandoning the close relationship with the US raises other vexing questions such as their trading relations and the privileged role that Japanese auto giants enjoy in the US. Critics in Japan need to think more critically about the implications of their superficial analysis of US-Japan relations.


  26. Politics is a strange game, any thinking person living an active, complex life must come to the conclusion sooner or later that she/he isn’t getting out of it alive, out of life, that is. But, on the global arena “the game” is described as “real politique”, apparently, for a good reason, “survival of the fittest” is the common denominator when all the humanitarian words are stripped clear. It must be clear to most thinking persons that Japan has turned a historic “corner”, politically speaking, to join nations that are led by multi-party system of government, shedding a quasi dictatorial system of government, for ill or for well. And doing this at a time of unprecedented economic turmoil and changing global dynamics.Any student of politics must find Japan’s current political “evolution” not only highly interesting, but a historic case to be observed and studied, particularly for the future generations of Japan.Perhaps, and particularly at a critical time and juncture like this that an honest and serious friend, like the U.S., needs to “test” its friend, Japan, to find evidence of “weakness” and “strength”, to find results of “stress test”. How Japan responds to its inside and outside forces will signal to the world how Japan will survive this game of survival.


  27. Anonymous

    The relocation of marines from Okinawa to Guam was planned by Rumsfeld. The relocation itself is not an issue. Most likely, marines are going to pull out from Okinawa sooner or later. The issue is cost, and who is going to pay how much. It is money, not defense.The Henoko plan was a really strange one. As you might remember, the planned base started as a mega float, which means a temporary base. Then it became a landfilled one runway. Then it became two runways with over trillion yen budget. Some people suspect that the plan was modified to produce profit for a certain group of people, but as usual, LDP regimes kept the process secret. That means it could be militarily non-sense and bad for the environment. In my opinion, if marines would like to stay in Okinawa, there is no reason to refuse the area adjacent to Kadena air base.If the above poster thinks the realpolitik is aggressive use of force or deterrence, and Japan should take the path, it should not be nuclear umbrella, but nuclear Japan. Japan has enough plutonium and technology to build nuclear missiles. Actually, Japan had tried an older version of realpolitik before and four million Japanese died, including 300,000 civilians killed by American atomic bombs. I do not think nuclear Japan is or will be politically accepted by the majority of the Japanese.The reality has changed from the cold war era. Obama visits Japan for less than 24 hours but stays in China for three days. US cannot nuke China any more, and the US market keeps on shrinking for some time in future, with two lost wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


  28. Kamoshika Bob

    Regarding the core issue of why the US even needs bases in Asian countries…It would seem that it is the US's way of projecting its power around the world. Extra-territorial police stations for the world's policeman. Why does the US still have bases in Germany? Perhaps nobody here knows much about the US withdrawal from the Philippines, but perhaps an examination of that process could shed light on how Japan could proceed, and how the US might react. It might be that the US (in the face of strong Philippine opposition to a continued US presence) figured it could do without its Philippine bases so long as it still had Okinawa and the Kanto bases.Another point that comes to mind regarding military misbehavior, is how many crimes are being committed by Ji-ei-tai personnel. The Japanese media seems so quick to air comments that the US military is such a bad guest, and such a noisy nuisance, etc., but it's hard to imagine that JSDF planes make any less noise when they are drilling.They fly over this rural village regularly, but I have yet to hear anyone complain.


  29. Anonymous

    As to comparison with JSDF,The statistics of crimes of JSDF and US forces in Okinawa between 2003-2008 can be found at: at Chapter 6.US forces (~40,000, including family members) are roughly seven times of JSDF (~6,000) in Okinawa (Chapter 1). The crimes of JSDF is 9 during the five years. Those of US forces are 66 during the first year. I excluded accidents (traffic or military). I gave up counting US number, but you get an idea. If you have enough time, you can do the whole five years.US forces could improve public relations by cooperating with the Japanese authorities. Unfortunately, they don't.


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