Posting an email exchange I had with Peter Ennis, publisher/editor of Dispatch Japan. 1AC author for lots of people with a Marines aff. Han shot first.
from Pedro Segura <email@example.com>
date Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 3:45 PM
subject Your Opinion on Public Backlash Against the Kadena Airbase on Okinawa
Hello Mr. Ennis, My name is Pedro Segura and I am a high school policy debater. This year's debate topic centers around US military presence in Japan and other countries. My team and I argue that a removal of American Marine presence from the Okinawa prefecture, including that stationed at Futenma, would prevent animosity from the Okinawan public from spilling over and causing the US-Japanese alliance further damage. Absent an immediate resolution to the Futenma issue, we argue that strategically important American bases elsewhere on Japan, specifically the Yokosuka naval base and the Kadena air base, will experience backlash from an angry public. We use excerpts from your November 29, 2010 Dispatch Japan article, "Okinawa: Why the Nakaima win spells trouble" to elaborate upon the specific ways that public sentiment can spill over and harm the alliance, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan's upcoming visit to Washington and the potential malleability of the newly reelected Okinawan governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, to public anti-base sentiment.
My question is, should the Futenma issue be spotlessly resolved, how would this affect anti-base sentiment in Japan as a whole, specifically in other cities with American bases? I understand that the Kadena air base, whose strategic necessity was asserted in your August 2010 article, "Gates and Japan," is rather large and is centered in the towns of Kadena and Chatan, and has already been the object of sizable local protests and activism. Would a perceived victory for anti-base movement embolden such anti-base rhetoric? And if it did, would the Japanese government be willing to go through another political mess like the one associated with Futenma to sate anti-Kadena movements?
I thank you sincerely in advance for your time. If you can provide your opinion, I would like to share this exchange with other debaters on a blog, with your consent. It could be very valuable educationally for many people and we really appreciate your time.
from Peter Ennis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 11:23 PM
subject bases in Japan
My pleasure to try to answer your excellent, pointed questions.
First off, it is not clear what a "spotless" resolution of the Futenma would look like.
Leaving that aside, a resolution of Futenma that was widely perceived by Okinawans as "fair," would greatly reduce anti-base sentiment on Okinawa, and almost certainly do the same on the four mainland islands of Japan, where anti-base sentiment is significantly lower than that on Okinawa. In other words, a "fair" resolution of the Futenma issue would go a long way toward putting the US base presence in Japan overall on a stable foundation politically for many years to come.
It should be emphasized that the main source of tension over the US force presence in Japan is the heavy concentration of US facilities in Okinawa prefecture (state), and particularly on the main island of Okinawa. Of all of the territory in Japan overall taken up by US military facilties (less than 1% of Japan's total territory), 75% of the land is concentrated in Okinawa prefecture. On the main prefectural island, not surprisingly also named Okinawa, a full 20% of the total island territory is taken up by US military facilities.
At the site of other major US facilties in Japan, including Yokusuka, Misawa air base, the Atsugi naval air station, the Iwakuni Marine Air Station, the Yokoto US Air base, and the US Army Camp Zama (all on the main island of Honshu), there is very little anti-base sentiment.
Yokosuka, for example, is an old navy city, formerly the location of major basing for the Imperial Japanese Navy. The local citizens around Yokosuka are respectful of the US sailors.
Okinawa is quite different. First there is long-standing cultural distance between Okinawans and Japanese on the main islands, the result of which is a deep feeling, rarely expressed, that Okinawans are not "really" Japanese. Toward the end of World War II, Okinawans came to believe that the main island residents essentially sacrificed Okinawans. The Battle of Okinawa caused enormous death and destruction in Okinawa.
As the post-World War II period progressed, the heavy US base presence on the main islands, including in Tokyo, greatly receded, while that on Okinawa did not change much.
This has led to a feeling among Okinawans that they, and their territory, bear the brunt of the burden of hosting US bases, which are crucial to the alliance. The residents of the main islands benefit from the alliance, but bear a much, much smaller burden in the form of US bases, than do the main islands.
All of this tension finally erupted in September 1995, at the time of the brutal rape of a young Japanese woman by four US servicemen based on Okinawa.
To reduce the pressure-cooker of tension that finally erupted due to the rape, the US knew it had to make a dramatic gesture. Then-Prime Minister Hatoyama proposed to the US that the Futenma facility be closed, as its location in the middle of Ginowan city poses enormous problems; an airplane or helicopter crash would cause enormous physical, human, and political damage.
The US finally agreed to close Futenma, and protracted negotiations ensued concerning where to relocate the operations then based at Futenma.
In the end, the two side decided to move the operations Camp Schwab, also on Okinawa.
After more than 15 years, that is where the issue remains.
The most controversial aspect of the projected replacement for Futenma is that it would entail construction of a new facility, in beautiful Henoko Bay, which struck many Okinawans as yet another sign of failure to consider their sentiments in the matter.
The Kadena base is quite large, and has been the focus of some protests. But there is a broad consensus that the antipathy directed at Kadena is manageable, especially if the Futenma issue is resolved in a "fair" way.
Kadena is also located on Okinawa, and some US officials have expressed concern that Kadena would be the next focus on anti-base sentiment on Okinawa should the US "retreat" on the Futenma issue. But there is not strong evidence to support that assertion.
Rather than fueling anti-base activists to target new facilities, a decision by the US to alter the current Futenma replacement plans and make a new, "fair" arrangement would actually reduce the broader anti-base heat on Okinawa.
Remember, much of the sentiment on Okinawa now directed at US bases is actually a reflection of anger about perceived mistreatment of and discrimination against Okinawa by toward Tokyo and mainland Japan.
The devil is always in the details, and what would constitute "fair" concerning Futenma is no different. But it could be done.
The general sentiment on Okinawa is not anti-American. The sentiment is not heavily against the US-Japan alliance. The goal of most Okinawans is to end the discrimination toward them by the mainland, not to evict all US bases.
A fair resolution of the Futenma issue would not eliminate all animosity directed at Kadena and other bases, on Okinawa. But it would go a long way toward forging a durable consensus that a modified, realigned base presence in Japan is legitimate. A fair agreement would relegate remaining anti-base opponents out of the mainstream of Okinawan public opinion and more to the fringe of public opinion.
Keeping in mind that anti-base sentiment in Japan is largely restricted to Okinawa, a resolution of the Futenma issue would, for the foreseeable future, greatly reduce tension around the base issue overall.
I hope this helps.
Feel free to get back to me with any further questions. Let me know how things turn out.
All the best,
My question is, should the Futenma issue be spotlessly resolved,
would this affect anti-base sentiment in Japan as a whole,
specifically in other cities with American bases? I understand that
the Kadena air base, whose strategic necessity was asserted in your
August 2010 article, "Gates and Japan," is rather large and is
centered in the towns of Kadena and Chatan, and has already been the
object of sizable local protests and activism. Would a perceived
victory for anti-base movement embolden such anti-base rhetoric? And
if it did, would the Japanese government be willing to go through
another political mess like the one associated with Futenma to sate
Weekly Toyo Keizai