• Naha, Okinawa

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In his Aug. 3 article, “Angst over opposition rule,” Robert Dujarric presents four choices for Japan with regard to its defense security: (1) pursuing unarmed pacifism, (2) switching sides from being a U.S. ally to a Chinese junior partner, (3) tripling or quadrupling its defense budget by ridding itself of reliance on U.S. forces, and (4) maintaining or strengthening the current Japan-U.S. alliance.

Dujarric claims the fourth option is best for Japan because Tokyo can somehow sway Washington as an ally, because the United States will protect Japan as “the world’s strongest power,” and because the presence of U.S. service members can be minimized, except on Okinawa.

He flatly rejects option (1) as “no one today believes this would be a rational choice.” Even so, this option is still worth pursuing, albeit with minimum defense capabilities, because it is consonant with Japan’s pacifist Constitution.

Option (2) is totally out of the question, but remember that Japan is nonetheless “a junior partner” of the U.S. under the current Japan-U.S. alliance.

Option (3) reminds me of the brouhaha caused by former Democratic Party of Japan head Ichiro Ozawa’s remark that the service of the U.S. 7th Fleet alone would be enough (for Japan’s defense). One prominent Liberal Democratic Party old-timer retorted that Japan would have to triple or quadruple its defense budget if that were the case.

These people must tell us what security reason there has been since the end of the Cold War to require the excessive presence of U.S. forces in Japan. There are 135 U.S. bases and facilities across Japan, occupying a total land area of 32,608 hectares. Okinawa hosts 75 percent or 24,786 hectares. Does Dujarric consider this a minuscule foreign military presence? Don’t forget that Okinawa is part of Japan.

In a nutshell, to conclude that option (4) is the best and only choice for Japan doesn’t follow from the argument that Dujarric makes. It must be closely re-examined from various aspects. Frankly, I believe the current Japan-U.S. Mutual Security Treaty should be scrapped in favor of a more rational one based on mutual trust and respect.

In that event, we must take into consideration that Washington is doing its utmost to engage China through its U.S.-China Strategic (and now) Economic Dialogue and that North Korea’s missiles and nuclear tests are not for pre-emptively attacking either Japan or the U.S. but for ensuring the survival of its regime.

yoshio shimoji

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