Our current imperial government under Barack Obama has apparently strong-armed the Japanese government into keeping the military bases at Okinawa.
Hatoyama came to office last September promising to create a "more equal" relationship with Washington and move the Marine base off the island, which hosts more than half the 47,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan under a 50-year-old joint security alliance.
Fortunately, Washington was able to use the conveniently well-timed incident between North and South Korea as a bludgeon.
The joint statement appeared to highlight rising tension surrounding the March sinking of a South Korean ship blamed on a North Korean torpedo. "Recent developments in the security environment of Northeast Asia reaffirmed the significance of the Alliance," it said.
This will not end well.
The United States is on the verge of permanently damaging its alliance with Japan in a dispute over a military base in Okinawa. This island prefecture hosts three-quarters of all U.S. military facilities in Japan. Washington wants to build one more base there, in an ecologically sensitive area. The Okinawans vehemently oppose it, and tens of thousands gathered last month to protest the base. Tokyo is caught in the middle, and it looks as if Japan’s prime minister has just caved in to the U.S. demands.
Let’s go back to using the United States military for the defense of the United States rather than as centurions pissing off people in the far flung reaches of the American Empire.
From 1950 to 1953, the American bases in Okinawa were used to fight the Korean War, and from the 1960s until 1973, they were used during the Vietnam War. Not only did they serve as supply depots and airfields, but the bases were where soldiers went for rest and recreation, creating a subculture of bars, prostitutes and racism. Around several bases fights between black and white American soldiers were so frequent and deadly that separate areas were developed to cater to the two groups.
The U.S. occupation of Japan ended with the peace treaty of 1952, but Okinawa remained a U.S. military colony until 1972. For 20 years, Okinawans were essentially stateless people, not entitled to either Japanese or U.S. passports or civil rights. Even after Japan regained sovereignty over Okinawa, the American military retained control over what occurs on its numerous bases and over Okinawan airspace.
The bases in Okinawa were used to support two wars we should not have been involved in anyway. Good enough reason to close them before we get involved in another. Declare victory in Afghanistan and Iraq while we’re at it.
Bring the military home, make it a Memorial Day to remember!