Brazen proposal on Okinawa

On a June 10 news talk show, Kevin Maher, the former U.S. Consul General Okinawa and chief of the Japan Desk at the U.S. State Department, said the suggestion by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army deputy chief of staff that the Senkaku Islands issue be shelved for now is like a thief proposing a condition.

Meanwhile, Maher’s current successor in Okinawa, Alfred R. Magleby, gave a lecture at the Okinawa Economists Club, in which he said that Okinawa shoulders too much of a burden in hosting U.S. military bases and that mutual efforts are needed to reduce this burden. That sounds great.

But consider: Almost all of the U.S. bases in Okinawa — Kadena Air Base and Futenma Air Station naturally included — sit on private lands that were requisitioned by U.S. forces in blatant violation of international law. Article 46 of the Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land stipulates: “Family honor and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated.”

So, under this convention, the lands in question (involving about 38,000 landholders) are stolen goods. Therefore, to suggest that mutual efforts are needed to resolve the Futenma relocation issue is tantamount to a robber’s offering conditions.

From our perspective, Magleby’s suggestion looks like our throwing good money after bad. How brazen-faced Washington is about its demand for a replacement for Futenma!

yoshio shimoji
naha, okinawa

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • Spudator

    I like it that the Japanese are able to pretend their country is an independent sovereign state. It’s nice that they have a comforting myth to believe in and can hold their heads high in the world as a result. But the truth is that since its conquest by the United States in World War II, Japan has been an American possession.

    The downside of this is that when Uncle Sam says “Jump,” Japan has to say, “Yessir, how high?” But the upside is that little Japan can hide behind Uncle Sam’s long legs and stripey pants and know that even big bad countries like China will think twice about picking a fight with it. Heck, it’s even possible to do an Ishihara, thumbing your nose and blowing raspberries at China, and pretending you’re big and bad yourself, while hiding behind the stripey pants and knowing uncle will protect you if China gets nasty.

    Of course, to protect you, Uncle Sam needs somewhere to put all his bases and station his troops. No problem: just give him Okinawa, an island so far away from the main Japanese islands that it may as well be another country. OK, the locals may not be too happy with this arrangement, but who cares about them? Like the American servicemen and women they’ve been forced to host, they’re out of sight, out of mind. Any problems that arise from the arrangement will be contained within Okinawa and not spread to the main islands. It’s a bit like building nuclear power stations out in the sticks so that, when one blows up, only the local bumpkins will suffer and the bigwigs and beautiful people in the capital can carry on as if nothing has happened.

    I understand that Yoshio Shimoji is incensed at the way America throws its weight around and acts as if it owns the place. But is he really so surprised? America does own the place. The question is who sold the place to America? Who sold out to America and turned Japan into a vassal state? Who sold the citizens of Japan down the river? And the answer, of course, is the government of Japan.

    While I sympathise with Shimoji, he really does need to stop blaming the United States for Okinawa’s problems and, instead, direct his anger at the real culprits: successive Japanese governments. The Americans are in Japan because the government wants them in Japan; they’re mainly in Okinawa because the government wants as few of them as possible in Honshu. It’s no use complaining to the Americans about this.

  • Yoshio Shimoji

    Spudator、

    If all these U.S. bases in Okinawa sit on illegally confiscated private lands, on what legal and moral grounds can the U.S. demand a replacement for any of them? There’s no legitimacy for a base to be relocated within Japan, whether it’s Okinawa or mainland Japan.

    Who’s coercing Japanese politicians to act as they do, selling out to the U.S.? Mind you, it’s the U.S. government, not anyone else. So the real culprit for base-derived evil is Washington, not Tokyo.

  • Yoshio Shimoji

    If all these U.S. bases in Okinawa sit on illegally confiscated private lands, then on what legal and moral grounds can the U.S. demand a replacement for any of them? There’s no legitimacy for a base to be relocated within Japan, whether it’s Okinawa or mainland Japan.

    Who’s coercing Japanese politicians to act as they do, selling out to the U.S.? Mind you, it’s the U.S. government, not anyone else. So the real culprit for base-derived evil is Washington, not Tokyo.