Friday, May 22, 2009

The U.S.-Japan Military Relations

Modern Influence on the U.S.-Japan Military Relations

Although Okinawa returned to Japanese rule for twenty years after the World War II ended, American military bases were unchanged, still outside of both Japanese and Okinawan control. Okinawa became an American military colony apparently legitimized by the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty in 1972 (Johnson, 1999). The continuing military presence of Okinawa left many Okinawans feeling that they were disproportionately bearing the burden of the U.S.-Japan Security Agreement. The reasons commonly given for the continued occupation include the inability of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to launch offensive attacks, possible aggression from the secretive North Korean regime, and containing China during the Cold War (Karan, 2005). The political issues surrounding U.S.-Japan-Okinawan relations -- along with the social and environmental impacts of the U.S. military presence on the islands – led to the radicalization of many Okinawan institutions, organizations, and people (Cooley & Marten, 2006).

In 1951, the United States and Japan signed the largely unilateral San Francisco Peace Treaty, which gave the United States “use of [Japan’s] land, air, and naval forces, facilities, and areas” (Muto, 2004, p. 1). The original treaty was modified in 1960 into the Status of Forces Agreement in an attempt to make the agreement more bilateral. However, the revision met with much public criticism because the Japanese government was still given very little influence over the U.S. military presence in Japan and the overseas deployment of troops from Japan (Kingston, 2001).

The 1960 Status of Forces Agreement has continued to serve as the legal justification for the American military presence in Okinawa and elsewhere in Japan. And, although the agreement stipulates that the U.S. is responsible for military expenditures on U.S. bases in Japanese territory (with the exception of pay for Japanese workers, utilities, and relocations performed at the request of Japan), the Japanese government has since 1978 been increasingly covering the costs. In 2001, Japan contributed more than $6 billion in ‘host nation support’ (Muto, 2004). The host nation support, known as the ‘sympathy budget’ (omoiyari yosan), is paid in addition to the expenditures Japan has been required to cover, which totaled nearly $15 billion in 2000 alone (Kingston, 2001; Karan, 2005).

The agreements in 1952 and 1960 are ideologically located within the unique context of U.S.-Japan defense relations. Specifically, Japan’s postwar constitution, which was instituted under strong pressure from the U.S. government, prohibits Japan from maintaining a standing army with offensive capacity. This pacifist provision, Article 9, has been reinterpreted since its inception to allow Japan to create the Self-Defense Forces, but still requires U.S. protection in cases other than direct invasions of Japanese territory. This arrangement, where Japan must remain deferment to United States interests, creates an unequal power distribution that taints all U.S.-Japan military relations. Military issues in Okinawa are further complicated by the trilateral nature of relations between the U.S., mainland Japan, and the Okinawa prefectural government. These three groups “constitute three distinct actors, each with separate identifiable interests” (Cooley & Marten, 2006, p. 572). Historically, Okinawa has been marginalized by Japan while being placed at the center of U.S.-Japan military relations as the “keystone of the Pacific” in U.S. military strategy (Yonetani, 2003, p. 245 [in Hein & Delden]).

Cooley, A., & Marten, K. (2006). Base Motives: The Political Economy of Okinawa’s Antimilitarism. Armed Forces and Society, 32, 566-583, Retrieved April 7, 2009, from Ebsco Electronic Journals Service.
Johnson, C. (1999). The 1995 Rape Incident and The Rekindling of Okinawan Protest Against the American Bases. In C. Johnson (Ed.), Okinawa: Cold War Island, 5-9, 109-129, 215-232. Cardiff, CA: Japan Policy Research Institute.
Karan, P, P., (2005). Japan in The 21st Century: Environment, Economy, and Society: Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.
Kingston, J. (2001). Japan in Transformation 1952-2000. England: Person Education Limited.
Muto, I. (2004). U.S. Military Presence in Mainland Japan and Okinawa. U.S. military Bases in Japan, 1-2. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
Yonetani, J. (2003). Future “Assets,” But At What Price? The Okinawa Initiative Debate. In L. Hein & M. Selden (Ed.), Islands of Discontent: Okinawan Responses to Japanese and American Power, 243-272. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefeild Publishers, Inc.

1 comment:

  1. One of the most shameful pieces of all this is that the American occupation created such a false sense of who Japanese were and how they were feeling after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From Lawrence Wittner's new book:

    "Despite Japan’s shocking introduction to nuclear weapons, an antinuclear movement in that country took some time to develop—largely because of the control exercised by U.S. occupation authorities. Newspaper stories about the Bomb or about the Japanese peace movement were a favorite target of U.S. censors, and only those articles that portrayed the weapon as shortening the war or leading to peace were printed" (Wittner, 2009, p. 10).

    Wittner, Lawrence S. (2009). Confronting the Bomb: A short history of the world nuclear disarmament movement. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Since the US has allocated $4.7 billion for media in 2010 we can expect the more sophisticated version of this in every case and we need to be aware of the Pentagon's corrosive influence on the free expression of civil society. I am very glad you have this blog!