Again on Okinawa

In the Congress, there have been the diet deliberations going on. I have watched a part of it as the live program on the TV this afternoon.

An opposition lawmaker has given questions to the government. He has been elected in Okinawa. His question was what the government had done against the problem by the US troops in Okinawa.

According to his saying, there have been flight training of helicopters etc in the habitation area around Futenma. Ospray has been flying around Henoko. The people have had terrible noises due
to shell processing training at the US military base. The noises were so loud as over 100dB at a habitation area. That training has been made late at night or very early in morning. It is against humanity.

It seems our government won't protest or claim about these problems to the US military. Or, even if they make an offer for improvement to the US military, nothing has been changed. It seems the US military takes Okinawa as a territory. Even after 70 years have passed since the end of WWII. This deliberation has made me feel suspicious of the independent status of our country.

Is it a small problem? In addition to these serious troubles regarding daily lives of the citizens, Okinawa has suffered from crimes by the US military for the past decades. The US military base has been in extraterritoriality. If US military personnel have committed a crime during their duty, our police and justice could do nothing for them. If the criminals are in the base, our police could not arrest them.

At present, all politicians elected in Okinawa belong to any opposing parties. No LDPJ, the ruling party, politicians elected. The governor has been in strict conflict with the government regarding the new base construction at Henoko. The public opinion in Okinawa is converging into the anti US military base, whatever party it might be. I am afraid the present situation will hurt the interest of the US if it is allowed to be as it is.


  1. Shin,

    I sympathize with your perception of local problems as a result of the presence of U.S. Military personnel on Okinawa. My understanding is that that approximately 90,000 U.S. service personnel and dependents are currently stationed in Japan, with approximately 60,000 of that number on Okinawa. Those numbers might seem overwhelming. However, those personnel are in no way occupying troops, today. The government of Japan pays a very significant amount of money to the U.S. government to maintain those bases (you can look it up and/or I can provide sources). Likewise, recent credible polls have demonstrated that fully three quarters of the Japanese population support the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Japan.

    Why would a large majority of the Japanese population, as well as the government, welcome and support that presence? The Pacific basin is an extremely strategic, as well as potentially dangerous area. The U.S.’s strongest allies in the region are Japan and South Korea. Japan and South Korea face existential threats from North Korea, China and Russia. Most notably, North Korea has developed both nuclear and missile technology (with the assistance of other world bad actors) that spell potential near annihilation of Japan, in the event of hostilities. Similarly, the People’s Republic of China is aggressively establishing a viable naval fleet and bases in an attempt to control the Western Pacific basin. Such action certainly threatens the freedom of the seas in that area. Japan is dependent on area sea lanes to be open and unfettered. The United States is present to provide security to Japan in the face of such threats.

    As we have discussed, my father served on Okinawa in 1945 with the 6th Marine Division. The time of that service must have been horrendous. While he spoke to me of his service at Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima, he never spoke of Okinawa. As a youngster, I eavesdropped one night on him speaking to my Uncle who likewise was a WW2 veteran, serving in B-24’s. He recounted to my Uncle the absolute horror of Okinawa. Later, my brother served on Okinawa at Kadena as a fighter pilot, which was an entirely different mission from that of our father. He had more than one “hot” intercept with (then) Soviet and Chinese aircraft, intruding on Japanese airspace. He often spoke of his affection for the Japanese people and his excellent relationship with Japanese military personnel. Similarly, I was stationed at various posts in Asia in the 70’s, including some time in Japan. I very much enjoyed working with my counterparts there.

    As stated above, I sympathize with your perception of the local problems as a result of the presence of U.S. troops in Japan/Okinawa. I understand that economic development, prosperity and population growth have made the bases appear as intruders. The Japanese government and people recognize the essential nature of that presence. That doesn’t mean that alternative locations, (removing the bases to less populous areas) shouldn’t be considered. However, the very high value of that presence to both nations dictates that the protective force should remain.

    As always, my best wishes to you and your family.

    Very respectfully,


    1. Taylor,

      Thanks for the considerate comment.

      However, I can't approve your opinion or observation on Okinawa.

      There could be much argument as for the value of Okinawa in the international relationship in East Asia. I won't discuss about that so much. I should point out one thing. Historically, in 1970s, the US Navy stationed in the main land of Japan,in response to the objection movement against the US military bases due to too heavy noise from the bases there, has moved to Okinawa. There was no argument for the fear that the security in the main land would be diminished etc at that time. Since then, Okinawa has been the main base that US military deployed its troops to Vietnam or to the Middle East. The stationed US military might work as deterrence for Okinawa or Japan. But it has worked as the deployment base for the US to all over the world.

      I would emphasize that the people in Okinawa won't endorse or support the present US military in Okinawa. They have made a couple of lawsuit against the government as for the transfer of Futenma to Henoko. The new base they are constructing at the cost of destructing the nature there is a fixed eternal one.

      My question is if the people in the base area won't support it, how could it remain there? Before there will be more serious situation like rebellion, the US people and the government should deal with the on going issue.

      Quite a number of families or school children are suffering from noises more intense than 100dB in Okinawa. The US military is doing training causing that big noise at midnight, they say. It is a problem of human right for living. I wonder if American people rationalize this situation because of its presence as deterrence.